ASHEVILLE– The City Council is set to consider the proposed Asheville Business Improvement District (BID) during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Supporters and opponents alike are expected to show up in droves to voice their opinions. But one heavy hitter and supporter of the BID will be watching from afar.
Academi a private military company previously known as Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide is rooting for the proposed BID to pass.
The BID includes a variety of proposals, but one proposal in particular caught Academi’s eye. Over three quarters of the BID’s budget is devoted to a “Clean & Safe” program that includes the placement of private security officers in downtown to target quality-of-life crimes (loitering, panhandling, graffiti, etc).
“We’ve been in talks with major downtown players and if BID were to pass, we have been ensured Academi would be first in line to fill the private security officer vacancies,” said CEO Ted Wright.
“Given are company was originally founded in North Carolina, we are pleased at the prospect of serving the city of Asheville.”
Academi’s predecessor Blackwater was founded in 1997 by Erik Prince in North Carolina and the company still owns a 6,000-acre state-of-the-art private training facility, the Blackwater Lodge and Training Center on the North Carolina/Virginia border. The former Blackwater security firm has changed it’s name three times since to rid itself of the bad publicity tied to lawsuits accusing Blackwater employees of killing several innocent Iraqi citizens while upholding a $27.7 million security detail contract from the US government during the Iraq war.
“Why in the world would downtown Asheville need a private military firm?” said Dane Olejnik, a 52-year-old condo resident in the Historic Kress building.
“I thought conceal and carry was the answer to crime, but now we are going to have military trained guards with assault rifles walking downtown everywhere? I think most people would rather have panhandlers than assault rifles.”
“The small town of South Park, Colo. thought it would be ok to give the panhandlers their spare change. Next thing you know they were overrun by panhandlers, so many in fact they blocked downtown traffic and the panhandlers actually turned to violence for spare change,” said Wright.
“Then we have Miami, where just in the last month a zombie decided to eat one of the panhandler’s face off. Its clear panhandlers attract zombies and the last thing Asheville needs is a flesh eating zombie problem. Hell most of Asheville rejects eating flesh of animals, let alone humans.”
The Citizen Thymes has dug up footage of the panhandlers epidemic in Southpark, Colo.
The city of Asheville has already stepped up pressure to exile the homeless from the city according to a June 7th Citizen Times article ‘Asheville criminalizing the homeless, advocates say’. Homeless advocates say Asheville Police use the homeless to ratchet up their arrests statistics by charging the homeless with bogus crimes such as trespassing when cutting through a private parking lot.
“This is why the BID needs to pass, we need to not only punish the homeless but get rid of them all together,” said Wright.
“Let us do the dirty work and let the Asheville Police stick to what they are good at, like stocking and organizing the evidence room.”
Academi plans for the BID’s Clean and Safe program not only to include armed guards but Academi has already started the paperwork to get clearance from the US government to use airborne predator drones in downtown Asheville. The drones will mostly be used for surveillance similar to the city of Tampa, Fla. strategy to monitor Occupy protestors with drones at the upcoming Republican National Convention in August.
“The drones will help us pinpoint where the panhandlers are and in the case of a mass invasion of homeless people, we may use the drones for firepower from the air,” said Wright.
“The drones will also contribute to Asheville’s tourism industry. The USS Intrepid receives millions of visitors a year and that is a decommissioned ship. Imagine what kind of visitors an air powered killing machine will bring to Asheville. I get giddy just thinking about it.”