Sheriff Explains Deputy Presence At Event

 

July 20, 2017



Editor’s Note: This is a follow-up article in response to a letter to the editor and questions concerning law enforcement presence on July 7 at Congressman Mark Meadows’ fundraiser at Hawg Wild Barbecue. Members of the local NAACP were also in attendance outside the fundraiser, voicing concerns about health care and other issues.

In a July 13 letter to the editor, Bill Livingston, of Brevard, asked what was “the purpose, tax dollar cost and who paid for the expense for the six-plus uniformed law enforcement officers” who were in attendance at the July 7 fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows at Hawg Wild Barbecue near the Pisgah National Forest entrance.

Transylvania County Sheriff David Mahoney said that the presence of law enforcement was for security, and the deputies who work for the county were already assigned that day and it was part of their normal course of duty. Mahoney said he hopes his deputies did assist in parking considering how busy the forest entrance can be.

“This is a matter of practice any time a state official visits,” said Mahoney. “We always have, and we always will (be there). We want to make sure it was a safe visit. It was primarily a security thing. The owners of Hawg Wild were concerned about parking, and they were open to the public on the other side of their restaurant. The entrance to the forest on a Friday in the summer can be crazy, so we wanted to keep residents and visitors safe.”

Brevard Police Chief Phil Harris did not respond to emails or phone calls for this article before going to press.

Harris and Mahoney both attended the fundraiser. A member of the local NAACP, Jim Hardy, said during the July 7 protest that the presence of police bothered him.

“Just look at this police presence,” he said. “I believe it’s about more than directing traffic. This is just another example of the kind of authoritarian rule that this group (Republicans) represents.”

In a later interview, Kathleen Barnes, who chairs the local NAACP’s Political Action Committee, said she didn’t have any problem with law enforcement being there, and considering recent events in Washington, DC, said it was not unreasonable for them to be there.

“When people were leaving Hawg Wild there were three different instances where people wanted to confront us, and the police stopped them,” she said. “I didn’t have a problem, and I thought it was appropriate. They were ensuring traffic was flowing well, too, and the NAACP didn’t have any issues either. I was appreciative of the sheriff’s deputies who were stopping the people from coming across the street.”

Barnes said some people coming out of Hawg Wild were calling protestors “stupid,” while others were “flipping them off.”

 
 

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