Just days before Gov. Roy Cooper signed the Shalom Act into law, three Asheville residents were attacked while attending an event at the West Asheville Public Library on Saturday, June 29th. The three victims reported an altercation followed by assault while they were live-streaming the report on social media. 

According to local news reports, the three victims have been identified as Monica Buckley, David Moritz, and Bob Campbell. The event was hosted by “Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair” (ACAB), and the session was entitled “Strategic Lessons from the Palestinian Resistance.” Around 80-100 people attended the event. Buckley was live-streaming the event on social media when another attendee of the event called her out for it. 

“They’re Zionists; We’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with them,” the attendee said, according to a report by the Asheville Citizen-Times. Another attendee then grabbed Buckley’s phone out of her hand, sparking the altercation  

The incident occurred amid a rise in anti-Semitic attacks across the country, including recent events at UNC-Chapel Hill, ever since the horrific attack by Hamas on October 7th, 2023. In October, Hamas terrorists murdered nearly 2,000 jewish people, mostly civilians, and captured over 200 hostages, many of whom remain in captivity to this day. 

“We at the APD remain steadfast in our commitment to reducing all acts of violence in our community, particularly those targeting vulnerable groups like our Jewish Community,” said Asheville Police Department Chief Mike Lamb in a press release. “Our detectives are actively investigating this incident to ensure those responsible are held accountable for their actions. We are working alongside the District Attorney’s Office, and we appreciate the information that members of our community have provided thus far to help identify the offenders.”

According to a press release, Asheville police officers responded to reports of a fight in progress at around 2:57 p.m. The victims told officers that an attendee took one of their cell phones by force, which was followed by being attacked and assaulted by a large crowd. 

“The members of the Asheville community deserve the right to enter any community spaces with a feeling of security,” said Asheville Mayor Esther E. Manheimer. “We will not tolerate violence, either against or carried out in our community. Asheville is a city that has thrived and honored the diversity of all its residents. We will continue to do so and not be cowed by individuals resorting to violence.” 

During the investigation, Taylor Danielle Zarkin was charged with two counts of resisting, delay, and obstruction. The robbery and assault investigation is ongoing. The APD is seeking to identify several persons of interest in the assault that occurred.

“The event that was going on was an outside group that booked our meeting room, so it was not a library event. It wasn’t library-sponsored, staffed, or facilitated,” Jason Hyatt, Library Director of Buncombe County Public Libraries. “It was an outside group that had booked the room for a workshop, and my understanding is that an altercation took place between some of the attendees in the meeting room, and that kind of spilled out into the meeting room lobby space… we make our meeting rooms available to community groups on an equitable basis.”

ACAB posted a statement concerning the incident on Instagram. 

“…two well-known fascists-Monic Buckley and real estate developer David Moritz, attended a bookfair session at the West Asheville Public Library,” according to the statement. “Their intentions in being at the ‘Strategic Lessons from the Palestinian Resistance’ were not benign; they were there to provoke a conflict and sell a false narrative that Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair is an antisemitic event. This is a pattern of behavior locally and elsewhere.”  

The statement accused Moritz of forcing his way into Palestinian encampments both at UCLA and in Asheville to incite conflict. ACAB accused Moritz and Buckley of instigating a fight and harassing and threatening community members. ACAB called the incident a “planned disruption” and described them as individuals with “extreme genocidal beliefs.” The statement accused them of publicly calling for “the suppression of solidarity with Palestinians.”

Buckley, Moritz, and Campbell responded with a statement posted on Buckley and Campbell’s Instagram accounts. 

“Monica, David, and Bob categorically reject the entire statement made by ACABookfair regarding the crimes committed against us as we peacefully attended the event at the West Asheville Public Library. ACAB organized an event that turned into a hate crime against us. ACAB should be apologizing for that instead of (attempting) to justify the violence that dozens of people inflicted on us, and in particular to Bob Campbell, an 80-year-old cancer patient, whom they conveniently left out of their statement.” 

The statement goes on to explain that Campbell is not Jewish, and yet the ACAB statement focused almost exclusively on the two Jewish attendees, Buckley and Moritz.

“The speech we were watching was glorifying the murders of October 7th,” they said. “The material in the presentation was horrifying and we understand now why they didn’t want the general public to see it. In fact, the speech was about using violence, lies, and deception. These are the same tactics and tools that they are using against us today. First, the violence at the library to try and intimidate us, bully us, hurt us as well as intimidate the entire Asheville community. Secondly, they are now using deception and lies to try and discredit us…The idea that Monica and David are fascists or white supremacists is utterly ridiculous. They are both Jews that care deeply about the Jewish community worldwide and for the safety of Asheville for everyone. David is the son of a Refugee and Holocaust survivor and knows all too well how hate speech can turn into mob violence, which is exactly what we all witnessed on Saturday.”