Asheville are residents are rallying in support of a man they say was unjustly and violently arrested last week as police were dealing with a bomb threat on the Haywood Road bridge over Interstate 240 in West Asheville.
Terry Marzelle crossed the Haywood Road bridge on a bicycle while Asheville Police Department officers had it shut down as emergency officials removed a reported “suspicious device” from a bridge beam. The object turned out to be a large, red button-shaped object with the word “peace” written on it. (The interstate was also closed to traffic.)
A WLOS-TV camera crew at the scene caught Marzelle’s arrest on video. An officer can be seen shouting “Hey, boss!” to Marzelle, and then wrestling him to the ground. (Here’s the WLOS bomb threat story and video, which includes video of Marzelle’s arrest.)
Community activist Jodi Rhoden, a local leader best known for her work and former ownership of Short Street Cakes in West Asheville, recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for Marzelle’s legal defense. So far, the campaign has raised more than $2,400 for Marzelle.
Rhoden, in the fundraising post, writes that Marzelle is a kind person she knows from her neighborhood. He’s mentally challenged and likely didn’t understand the situation that was playing out that June 22 day, she writes.
“This is clearly a case of racist, ableist, and classist policing. I can hardly imagine a white, neurotypical, affluent cyclist being subject to this kind of abuse. The APD must be held accountable and we ask for your support in this endeavor,” Rhoden writes.
Here’s Rhoden’s full description of the crowd-funding campaign for Terry Marzell:
UPDATED, SUPER-SHAREABLE CAMPAIGN!
*All information and action shared and discussed on behalf of Terry in this campaign is done 100% in consultation with Terry, by his request, and with his prior knowledge, consent, and enthusiastic approval and gratitude.*
My name is Jodi Rhoden and I’m representing a collective of friends who love and care about Terry Marzelle. I have known Terry for many years. During my tenure as owner of Short Street Cakes in West Asheville, Terry was a frequent customer and beloved neighbor and friend to all the businesses in the Beacham’s Curve neighborhood, and Terry’s support team that I represent are the owners and employees of those businesses: Short Street Cakes, Tacobilly, Allied Wheel and Alignment, Urban Orchard Cider Bar, Battlecat Coffeebar, The Double Crown, and Harvest Records to name a few.
Terry Marzelle is a kind and gentle person who loves people. Terry has a designation of “mental retardation” and “total incompetence” from the Social Security Administration and Asheville City Schools. He is terrified of the police and expends a great deal of energy focusing on avoiding arrest and altercation with police officers.
On June 22nd, Terry rode his bike over the Haywood Road 240 overpass to go to the Gasup to get his favorite snack, Beenie Weenies and a lemonade. Unbeknownst to him, a bomb threat had been called in to the NC Department of Transportation, and the Asheville Police Department was in the process of shutting down traffic on the bridge. As he was crossing, police officers urged him to hurry across the bridge, which he refused to do, as there were pedestrians in front of him, and he feels respect for the right of way of pedestrians. He went to the Gasup, purchased his snacks, and turned around to travel back over the bridge. Again unbeknownst to him, at this point, APD had “closed” the bridge (though there were no barricades to prevent through traffic, just an officer posted at the intersection and a parked police car). Terry assumed that he needed to hurry past the officers like they had encouraged him to do a few minutes earlier. This is the point at which the WLOS coverage of the incendent begins. Terry heard the officer shout, “Bossman! Hey, hey, Boss!” but he assumed that the officer was not speaking to him, as he was not his boss. APD is claiming that they “told him to stop 3 times” but no orders to stop were given.
As you can see in the video, the officer then proceeds to chase Terry down, and, without speaking, grab Terry’s arms, then grab his bicycle, shove his bike into Terry’s testicles, push Terry up against the police car, force him to the ground (still with the bike between his legs), and pin his head to the concrete (choking him and splitting open his chin). Terry was then taken into custody, not read his rights, not communicated to, and charged with “Resisting an Officer” and “Damage to Real Property.” When we picked up Terry at the jail, he had no idea what had happened. He believed he had been detained for failing to cross quickly enough.
Apparently, the “damages to real property” charge are a result of supposed damage to the police car from Terry’s bike when the police forced Terry against the car. Apparently, officers cannot legally charge someone with “resisting a police officer” without a predicating charge, hence the false damage to property charge to justify the false resisting an officer charge.
Terry is out on bond and faces trial for these charges on July 11th. We have identified a social justice/criminal defense lawyer based in Raleigh who has agreed to defend Terry in court. The lawyer is asking for only $600 as a fee.
We are raising funds for Terry to pay the attorney and care for Terry’s personal/logistical needs as they arise.
This is clearly a case of racist, ableist, and classist policing. I can hardly imagine a white, neurotypical, affluent cyclist being subject to this kind of abuse. The APD must be held accountable and we ask for your support in this endeavor.
Please donate and share if you are able. Other forms of support we are requesting are for people who know and love Terry to serve as character witnesses at the trial.
Inquiry can be directed to jodi (at) jodirhoden (dot) com
Love Jodi, and really appreciate that you posted the entire text of the crowdfunding as it puts it in proper, human perspective. Thank you Jason.