Leaked video of an Asheville police officer beating an unarmed black man accused of jaywalking has brought renewed attention to the North Carolina law regarding the release of police body cam footage.  Lauren Horsch of NC Insider reports the Asheville incident is being cited by the law's critics as an example of its weaknesses.  She spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.

MURPHY, N.C. (AP) — When Brian Hogan got a call that his wife had suffered a massive heart attack, he knew he had to get to the hospital fast. So Hogan asked his neighbor to take care of his 10-year-old daughter, then headed 60 miles east to the intensive care unit in Asheville, North Carolina.

What happened next would eventually expose a practice by a child welfare agency that illegally removed potentially hundreds of children from their homes in this poverty-stricken mountain community.

March 14 is National Pi Day, a time to celebrate the mathematical constant, 3.14 and a good excuse to eat pie.  BPR’s Helen Chickering talked with UNCA Math Professor Sam Kaplan about why the irrational number deserves its own day, why math intimidates many of us, and his work in the community - outreach that uses math as a platform to help local students sharpen their leadership skills. 

courtesy of Hannah Kaminer

Like a lot of people fresh out of college, Hannah Kaminer found herself a little lost. So she left a life and teaching job in Waco, Tex. to return where she grew up. Her parents had divorced, so without a family home awaiting her in Black Mountain, she moved in with friends in Asheville.

“I mean, I loved teaching, but without community and connections, it’s really hard to live in a place,” Kaminer said.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on school safety following the mass shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The committee is hearing from a Stoneman Douglas teacher as well as from the father of one of the shooting victims, Florida lawmakers and Justice Department officials. Watch the hearing live.  It's scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m.  

Chelsea Beck/NPR

On President Trump's first trip to California, he is speaking to military personnel at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, north of San Diego. The visit comes a week after the Justice Department announced it was suing the state over immigration enforcement and on the day that Trump announced he was firing his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. Watch his remarks live.


Asheville city council is scheduled to meet twice on Tuesday, its first regularly scheduled meetings since the release of a body camera video that showed a then-city police officer beating an unarmed black man last year.  


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Hundreds of times a year across North Carolina, officials who control everything from the taxes you pay the city to the tuition required to attend public universities meet behind closed doors to conduct sensitive business on behalf of the public they serve.

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

Lack of housing and parking topped the list of concerns for local businesses in the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce's annual 'Business Walk'.  The survey of more than 300 local businesses focused on whether those businesses saw growth in 2017, and what they felt needed to change to improve the business environment in the area.  Housing topped the list of areas where businesses wanted to see change, with 40% of respondents including it in their response.  Pa

Buncombe County DA

(UPDATE Thursday 9:40 p.m.) -  Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams announced in a press release late Thursday that former Asheville police officer Chris Hickman will face three criminal charges for the August beating of an unarmed black man.  Hickman and an officer in training stopped Johnnie Rush for suspected jaywalking and trespassing  late on the night of August 24th on Short Coxe Avenue.  Hickman beat, choked and shocked Rush with a stun gun.  The charges detailed Thursday night against Hickman - who resigned from the police force in January - are one count each of assault

Matt Peiken | BPR News

If Yousef Natsha had his way, Israeli immigration officials would allow his partner back into the country, and Natsha would continue capturing video and photos of Palestinians living under the gun of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Blue Ridge Public Radio is YOUR public radio station, and we want you to stay in touch and contribute to BPR's regional conversations and celebrations of community. Here's how:

Social Media - join our community of Facebook fans. You can be a part of the conversation about what you hear on the air and get to more of an insider's look at the station. Follow us on Twitter at @BlueRidgePublic.

Two stations. One goal. Zero program interruptions. Now all we need is you!  It’s time to give.  The Spring Fund Drive is happening right now. Our goal is $225,000 by March 28th for uninterrupted programming. Take a stand for responsible journalism, insightful reporting and cultural celebration by supporting the programming you love. 

Here's how you can make your gift to support the Blue Ridge Public Radio Spring Drive:

David Boraks/WFAE

A week after allowing Duke Energy a rate increase that includes charges for coal ash cleanup for about half its North Carolina consumers, state regulators on Monday began considering raising prices on an additional 2 million customers.

The state Utilities Commission opened a hearing on the company's request to charge an extra $539 million a year to customers of its Duke Energy Carolinas subsidiary in central and western North Carolina. That translates into a 14 percent increase for the typical residential customer's $104 monthly bill, a spokesman for the Charlotte company said.


The city of Asheville Monday afternoon formally asked Buncombe County Superior Court to release any additional police body camera footage of the beating of Johnnie Jermaine Rush.  The unarmed black man was beaten by then Asheville police officer Chris Hickman last August as he walking through the parking lot of a closed business on Short Coxe Avenue.  Rush was initially stopped for suspected jaywalking and trespassing, but charges against him were dropped.  Hickman resigned from the force in January, shortly before a criminal investigation into his actions in the Rush beating was opened by


Asheville city council has called a closed session special meeting for Monday evening to discuss a video released this week showing a then-Asheville police officer beating an unarmed black man last August.  The video, published by the Asheville Citizen-Times, shows officer Chris Hickman beating and shocking with a stun gun Johnnie Jermaine Rush.  Hickman had stopped Rush for suspected jaywalking and trespassing August 24th. 

Leonardo da Vinci may be best known for his artistic masterpieces, but he was also an accomplished engineer and scientist.  That mix of science and art helped inspire a local group of artists, scientists, teachers and citizens to launch the area’s first arts and science festival.  BPR’s Helen Chickering caught up with one of the organizers, biologist Jason York.

Asheville’s first Arts and Science Festival will be held on Saturday, March 31 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Salvage Station.  The event is free and welcomes all ages.

Matt Bush BPR

Candidate filing for the 2018 North Carolina General Assembly elections ended this week, and both parties will field enough candidates to ensure all 170 seats will be contested this year.  It’s making Democratic Governor Roy Cooper very happ - and confident.  Cooper has been in office for 14 months, but his legislative power remains quite limited.  That’s because Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly allowing them to override any vetoes from Cooper, something they did nine times last year.  But the Governor is confident that will change next year, in par

Candidate filing for the 2018 election wrapped up Wednesday afternoon.  A flurry of late filings - mostly Republicans in Buncombe County - ensured that all of Western North Carolina's General Assembly seats will see a contested general election.  That's a step up from two years ago, when five of the seats featured unopposed general elections or only one candidate from a major party.

Matt Peiken | BPR News

Everywhere you turn inside Sassy Frass Consignment, your eye catches bejeweled, gleaming crosses and other Christian symbols sprinkled among t-shirts, furnishings, glass baubles and other nicknacks.

Then there are very different signs about one special chapter in the store’s history -- the charred doors left behind by a firey Molotov cocktail and the giant block letters that temporarily hung on the building’s facade, spelling out Ebbing Police Department.


 North Carolina election administrators are asking state lawmakers for additional money and changes in the law to improve the security of registration and balloting from external and internal threats.

State elections board Executive Director Kim Strach wrote Tuesday to General Assembly elections oversight committee leaders.

Strach's requests follow warnings by federal officials nationwide about Russian hackers during the 2016 elections. Two local election workers also pleaded guilty last year following separate investigations.

Cory Vaillancourt/Smoky Mountain News/BPR

Winning an election is just the beginning for a public official – governing is challenging, ever-changing and can become extremely technical in a legal sense.  So newly elected officials go back to school to learn what they can and can’t do, and what might land them in jail.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's schools chief is opposed to arming teachers in classrooms, an idea President Donald Trump and some legislators in North Carolina and other states have suggested following the shootings at a Florida high school that killed 17 people.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have released their rebuttal to Republicans' memo about the Russia investigation and Justice Department surveillance practices. President Trump agreed to declassify and release the Republican document, which raises concerns about partisan influence in the FBI’s probe of Russian contacts with the 2016 Trump campaign. Democrats requested the release of their longer counter-memo and President Trump initially denied that request, sending it back for redactions.

A busy basketball weekend in Asheville will now be even more so.  Not only will the Southern Conference host both it's men's and women's basketball championships at the U.S. Cellular Center, but the quarter and semi-final rounds of the Big South men's basketball championship will be played at the Kimmel Arena on the campus of UNC-Asheville.  That's because the Bulldogs clinched the Big South regular season championship over the weekend.  Doing so means the Bulldogs will play at home during the Big South tournament as long as they are in it.


Matt Peiken | BPR News

Michael Jefry Stevens stuttered badly when he was young, nearly died 20 years ago in a mugging and once declared bankruptcy.

So it’s a little odd to hear Stevens say he believes he’s the beneficiary of good karma.

“Basically I have a spiritual philosophy that if you do the right things, the universe will help you at the appropriate time,” Stevens said. “So far in my life, that has happened.”

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

President Trump is speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. His comments come amid a debate about gun laws after a shooting a high school in Parkland, Fla. National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre spoke at CPAC on Thursday, warning conservatives of a “socialist agenda” to take firearms from law-abiding citizens. Trump called the NRA and LaPierre “Great American Patriots” in a tweet Thursday morning and later said the organization “is ready to do things” to address the problem of gun violence.

AP Photo/Nell Redmond, File

Reverend Billy Graham passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 99 at his home in Montreat.  The most prominent American Christian preacher of his era was ordained in Southern Baptist church, but it was his ability to blur the denominational lines of Protestant Christianity that built his large following says Reverend Dr.

Matt Bush BPR

Reverend Billy Graham passed away Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat.  He was 99.  A family spokesman told the Associated Press Graham had been suffering from a variety of ailments, including cancer and pneumonia.  His wife Ruth died in 2007.  Funeral services have not been announced, but Graham will be buried next to his wife at the Billy Graham Museum and Library in Charlotte.