Civic

Clashes Over Police Funding & Ongoing Protests

Moe Davis is the Democrat running for the vacant U.S. House District 11 seat in N.C.

AshevilleDavis & Cawthorn Debates, Part 2

Congressional candidates Madison Cawthorn and Moe Davis clashed over police funding and protests, in recent debates.

Democrat Morris “Moe” Davis and Republican Madison Cawthorn of Hendersonville are in the 11th U.S. House District race, along with Libertarian Tracey DeBruhl and Tamara Zwinak of the Green Party.

The local congressional debates were Sept. 4 and 5, then on Sept. 30. Comments in this article are from the televised third debate unless otherwise noted.

Police brutality and reform and protests and riots were among most emotionally-debated topics.

“Law enforcement officers care about our lives. They very rarely ever act maliciously,” Cawthorn said. But he supports requiring officers nationwide to wear body cams on duty. “It keeps everyone accountable” in interactions.

He said most police reform should be handled locally, to fit the local situation. He called reducing police funding “absolutely dangerous,” and resulting in more crime and costly overtime pay with fewer officers. He ripped Asheville’s “liberal City Council” for recently voting to “defund the police by $770,000. It’s trying to turn Asheville into Portland.”

Davis noted he has a criminal justice degree. He said, “we need to address the problems that people are out there demonstrating about…that I believe are legitimate grievances.”

He said “re-imagining law enforcement” can get other agencies more involved. He said triggers for crime such as “mental health issues and alcoholism and drug addiction” are more “health care problems.”

Cawthorn countered if a mother’s drunken ex-husband is pounding on her door “threatening violence” then when she “calls 911, she doesn’t want a social worker to come up. She wants a sheepdog. Someone who will come and protect her, and protect the lives of innocents.”

Cawthorn said when Davis joined their protest, protestors in Asheville were “marching to the drumbeat of ‘defunding the police.’ I think that’s absolutely radical…despicable. It’s a spit in their (officers’) face.”

Protest Violence

After a question on white supremacy, Cawthorn noted left-wing Antifa is also “extremely violent…We need to meet them (both) with swift force. And make sure they cannot harm innocent Americans. That’s why I support funding the police.”

In the second debate, Cawthorn spoke of “so much civil unrest — predominantly from the left-leaning side of the Democratic Party. Inside our great cities, such as Portland…It is being egged on by the national Democratic Party. One that wants to create a partisan divide, to go deeper and deeper and deeper…So they gain power, through the hate and unrest in our country.”

Cawthorn pointed to just outside the third debate site, in saying “my opponent has called for his protestors to be here to advocate against me.”

He vowed “if you have Dan Forest (as governor) and myself in power, you will never see a city destroyed and rioted in North Carolina. I give you my word on that. We need to act swiftly, to stop these riots.”

Cawthorn said he backs free speech, but not “spray paint graffiti.” He said in closing comments “I really resent and detest all of the protests” when violence erupts. Protestors attacked conservative journalist Chad Nesbitt, in Asheville Sept. 23.

“My heart aches for Chad…Who is now resting in a hospital, trying to fight for his life,” Cawthorn said. “He’s has just faced all of this adversity. And now he has a traumatic brain injury, that will probably affect him for the rest of his life.”

Cawthorn is dismayed by “people protesting the valiant police officers — one (deputy Ryan Hendrix) of which we just lost in Henderson County (in a shootout Sept. 10) — who try to keep us safe” and “put their lives on the line, every single day… Here, we were taught to honor those who put sacrifice above themselves.”

Davis emphasized that “I’ve never condoned violence that takes place on either side.”

When asked if the National Guard should be deployed to contain protest riots, Cawthorn said instead state troopers should intervene, instead of the National Guard. Davis said it should be “up to the governors, to choose whether or not to use the National Guard. I oppose federalizing it.”

Personal Attacks

The two expressed their perspectives very effectively. Overall, they kept composure and decorum in debates — even when expressing outage.

Each debate turned personal. Cawthorn, who is paralyzed from an auto crash and spinal cord injury, took offense when Davis (regarding tort reform) referred to Cawthorn’s winning damages in a lawsuit. Cawthorn asked Davis, “Wouldn’t you fight for your damages to be received, so you could take care of your health care costs moving forward?“

Davis said he is the more mature candidate, with much more government-related experience. 

Yet Cawthorn pointed to Davis’ tweet a year ago that was aggressive and even violent in words and tone. Moe Davis tweeted on Sept. 11, 2019, at 9:43 pm: “Screw ‘they go low, we go high’ bullsh*t. When @NCGOP extremists go low, we stomp their scrawny pasty necks with our heels and once you hear the sound of a crisp snap you grind your heel hard and twist it slowly side to side for good measure. He needs to know who whupped his ass.”

Davis said he was upset Republican state lawmakers voted to overturn a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper in apparent maneuvering, after claiming they would postpone a vote on 9/11 of last year for officials who were attend ceremonies. “So yes, I was angry,” Davis said of his tweeting. He took issue with those Republicans he labeled as “extremists.”

Davis said he did not actually mean to stomp necks. “It’s like a coach at halftime telling to ‘get out there, and kill them,’ he said. “It doesn’t mean to literally do it. I was trying to fire up the troops.”

“—‘Fire up the troops’?,” Cawthorn interjected. “When they just attacked one of my friends (journalist Chad Nesbitt)? And put him into the hospital.” Cawthorn indicated the violent tone could encourage violence, and he said it revealed his opponent’s darker,
temperamental side.

Editor’s note: This is one of two stories on the debate between Cawthorn and Davis.