Asheville – More than a week after Leicester resident, local journalist and former Leicester Leader reporter Chad Nesbitt was severely injured and hospitalized during a protest in downtown Asheville on September 23, Asheville Police are still seeking the public’s help in identifying a person of interest.
Nesbitt, who is also a local businessman but better known for his founding and running of the Facebook-based news media page Skyline News, suffered a traumatic brain injury and was rushed to Mission Hospital.
According to unofficial reports and a video of the incident which is on the internet, Nesbitt appeared to have taken a fall backward after an Antifa agitator shoved a man believed to be a bodyguard for Nesbitt into him, causing Nesbitt to either hit his head on a parking meter, pavement or both.
Nesbitt is known for his investigative reports of local events and issues ignored by other local media along with political news. He started with the Leicester Leader before branching out on his own.
The protest he was covering in downtown Asheville was reportedly sparked by the decision by Kentucky officials not to charge police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor. Taylor died after the police raided the wrong house. Two Louisville, Kentucky police officers, were shot September 23 in a protest there. The protesters were also reportedly marching over the lack of deep cuts to the Asheville Police Department’s budget which they had been seeking.
Asheville City Council, who are all Democrats, recently voted to defund the police budget by about $700,000 or about three percent of the police department’s budget when anti-law enforcement groups called for a 50 percent reduction in funding. The city’s decision to defund the police drew the ire of NC State Senator Chuck Edwards (R), who said, “When the legislature reconvenes next year, the first bill I will introduce will defund cities that defund the police. We must maintain law and order. While municipalities have control over their local budgets, the state legislature also has control over its budget, and I intend to help create an environment where public safety is a top priority.”
Of late, Nesbitt had been reporting on the role of rioters and Antifa in the local protests in Asheville. He had reportedly received numerous threats to himself and his family from people who didn’t like his reports. Nesbitt had to go to the extreme of having armed guards at his home and bodyguards when he went to cover the protests.
Social media is full of vicious and hateful posts about Nesbitt and his reports; Nesbitt took it as a badge of honor and laughed those posts off. As of the writing of this article, Nesbitt remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition.
According to a press release from the Asheville Police, “At approximately 10 pm on September 23rd, and during the protest activity in downtown Asheville that evening, the Asheville Police Department (APD) responded to an assault on Spruce Street near the Roger McGuire Green at Pack Square public park.” They arrived to find Nessbitt had suffered severe injuries as a result of an altercation.
“Detectives have been investigating the incident since that time and have identified a person of interest with whom they would like to speak. The person of interest is described as a white male, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, a baseball cap, and a dark-colored face covering. He stands approximately six feet tall.
“If anyone has information about the identity of the man or his whereabouts, they are encouraged to contact the APD at 828-252-1110. They also encourage anyone with information or digital evidence of the incident in question to contact the agency.”