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City prepares for Unite for Peace event Saturday

Hendersonville Police Chief Herbert Blake said Friday he is expecting a demonstration Saturday over the death of George Floyd to be peaceful but is preparing for any efforts by "detractors" that could "hijack" the event.


The Unite for Peace protest was organized by Hendersonville High School graduates Shiauna Ledbetter, who is a student at UNC at Chapel Hill, and Kaeleah Avery, a student at N.C. State University. It had been relocated from the Historic Courthouse to the parking lot of the city police department and is scheduled to start at noon.

"It's going to be a group of people who are gathering to express their support and concern about what has happened in law enforcement the last couple of weeks," Blake said. Although he is confident that Ledbetter and Avery are committed to a nonviolent event, he also acknowledged that word has been spreading widely on social media. Working with other law enforcement agencies, the city is prepared to react "to any detractors who may try to hijack" the event. "We put some plans in place with other city departments, other police departments and the sheriff's department."

Sheriff's Office Maj. Frank Stout said deputies will be available to help if needed.

"Our hope is for any protests to be peaceful and incidents of looting or destruction of property does not occur like it has in other areas," he said in a text message.

Initially, Ledbetter and Avery predicted 20-30 friends would show up but now it looks like "that number may be multiplied several times based on information that's circulated that they don't have any control over," Blake said.

Attempts to reach Ledbetter and Avery through Facebook on Friday were not successful.

"I can't take it anymore!," Avery wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. "WE cannot take this anymore. Hendersonville for ONCE stand up for what's right. Stand up for the black lives, the brown lives. Stand up for justice and humanity. For Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and all those who have lost their lives due to police brutality. This system is not for us, and change will not come until we demand it! Share this. Come out to this peaceful protest and bring your friends."