Protesters tossed bombs over the fence around the empty building at the proposed CVS site in Carrboro on Saturday — bombs made of clay, compost and seeds.
Members of the Carrboro Commune, Carrboro Greenspace and Croatan Earth First! participated in a peaceful guerilla gardening event to oppose the proposed CVS at 201 N. Greensboro St.
The event included face painting and vegetable gardening but also resulted in an arrest for impeding traffic.
Vincent Gonzalez, a Carrboro resident and UNC doctoral candidate, was arrested for chalking the street during the event, according to court documents.
Carrboro Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison said he blocked car traffic’s right of way.
Hutchison said this offense sometimes results in a citation, but officers used their discretion Saturday to make an arrest.
“It sends a very strong message to the rest of the participants that unlawful behavior will be dealt with legally and strongly,” she said.
Hutchison said the police maintained a presence during the event to ensure public safety.
She said she was concerned that the protesters might trespass, damage property or block pedestrians’ access to the sidewalk.
The police also videotaped the protesters to prevent discrepancies between police action and what people may claim to have seen, Hutchison said.
Hutchison said that the police raid of a protest that occupied Chapel Hill’s vacant Yates Motor Company building in November — which caused months of controversy — did not influence her department’s actions on Saturday.
Carrboro Alderman Sammy Slade, who attended the event and has also spoken out against the Yates action, said the arrest and police presence were unnecessary.
“Nothing has happened in Carrboro to warrant excessive amounts of police,” he said.
Police and Carrboro Commune members first interacted at the site earlier this year.
Members of the Carrboro Commune occupied the proposed CVS building on Feb. 4 in an act of protest but were disbanded by the police after four hours.
Alanna Davis, a member of the Carrboro Commune and a UNC junior, said she was not surprised to see police at the event Saturday.
But Davis said guerilla gardening is a nonviolent and direct act of protest that strengthens community ties.
She said the group’s purpose is to reclaim the land from CVS for people to grow medicinal herbs and vegetables.
“I understand that we have a very pharmaceutical-run health care industry, but I don’t think it is sustainable or healthy,” she said.
Slade said he came out in solidarity with the gardeners.
He said the event gave him an opportunity to listen to the community’s views about the proposed CVS development.
Emma Gold, a gardener at the event, said she participated because she would prefer a community garden in Carrboro over a CVS.
She said the event also opposed Monsanto, a company that creates genetically modified foods.
“I hope the garden makes a strong visual reminder that we don’t have to give up space if we don’t want to.”
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