“I was just in shock at that behavior,” said Amy Churchill, in describing what she says was Doug Brown's aggression toward her.

Buncombe County GOP Chairman Doug Brown faces an assault charge after County School Board of Education member Amy Churchill said he shoved her through a doorway at a monthly political party meeting Monday and told her, “You’re not a Republican.”

Churchill, who was censured in June by the Buncombe GOP, filed a report Tuesday with the Buncombe County Magistrate’s office and Asheville Police Department.

“I was just in shock at that behavior,” said Churchill, who is recovering from surgery on a fractured right ankle and said she was wearing a visible brace at the time of the alleged assault.

A Buncombe County magistrate issued a criminal summons Tuesday afternoon for Brown on a charge of assault on a female, a Class A1 misdemeanor. Magistrates, independent judicial officers, issue summons after determining there is probable cause a crime was committed.

Class A1 misdemeanors in North Carolina carry a maximum sentence of 60 days for people without a criminal record. Brown does not have any convictions in Buncombe County, according to court records.

Brown, 64, initially via text Tuesday evening declined to comment on the case. He later texted, “I’m doing good work for the party and she would like to stop me. We are a friendly office and hands on the shoulder are brotherly and sisterly gestures.” 

The criminal accusation is part of an escalating feud between Churchill, a lifelong Republican, and the party that accuses her of infidelity to Republican values.

Brown initially told Churchill he was “glad to see you here,” she told Asheville Watchdog in an exclusive interview, and then questioned why she was at the GOP meeting, her first since being censured — a formal expression of the party’s severe disapproval of her actions.

Brown then became “very agitated,” Churchill said, and slammed the door on her when she entered a hallway.

In a complaint she filed with Asheville Police, Churchill wrote, “(I) stated that his behavior was rude, (Brown) stated that he had had enough of me and placed hands forcefully on (my) upper arms, shoulder area and proceeded to forcefully shove (me) multiple times without removing hands and moved (me) backwards.” She said she had to “apply pressure” to her back right heel to keep from falling.

Churchill told Asheville Watchdog she then decided to confront Brown at the meeting over the shoving and recorded the conversation.

“You put your hands on me,” Churchill can be heard saying in a muffled recording she shared with The Watchdog.

Audio that Amy Churchill shared with The Watchdog captures what she says was her confrontation with Doug Brown after he allegedly shoved her.

“What are you here for?” an unidentified man responds.

“Because I am a Republican,” Churchill says. “And I can sit there and listen to anybody I want to listen to.”

In the recording, Churchill can be heard saying, “Don’t ever, ever put your hands on me again.” Churchill told The Watchdog that Brown placed his hands on her a second time.

“Take them off now. Not funny,” she can be heard saying on the recording. “I don’t care who you are. You don’t push somebody.” 

Churchill then says, “Don’t ever lay a hand on me again.”

Churchill told The Watchdog Brown’s placing of his hands on her a second time was “very, very passive-aggressive” and meant to “make a point.”

Brown’s letter lists grievances

According to voter registration records, Churchill is a registered Republican. Only Republicans are invited to the monthly town halls, Churchill said, entitling her to attend.

Brown became head of the local GOP in March. In June, the GOP formally censured Churchill over her recent support of Democrat-backed Buncombe County School Board candidates and her opposition of a new Republican-crafted law — House Bill 66 — that will force school board elections to change from at-large to district-based.

But Brown never told her personally that she had been censured, Churchill said.

Churchill said she learned of the censure in a letter to the editor published in the Tribune Papers early in July, condemning her for not conforming with the local party’s current vision, which currently has House Bill 66 near its center since, as Brown said in emails to the party, it could help get more Republicans in school board seats.

“Enough is enough,” Brown wrote in the letter. “(S)ix months ago, the BCGOP voted to remove Amy Churchill from attending any further BCGOP executive meetings – of which she almost never attended anyway. Obviously, she did not learn anything. By censuring Churchill at the last BCGOP meeting, it formally stops any assistance or endorsement by the BCGOP for any future political endeavors Churchill may have. The BCGOP endorsed her and helped her win her seat on the Buncombe County School Board during her last election.”

Brown also wrote that Churchill supported Democratic candidates on social media and financially — which she confirmed — in 2022. All three Democrats running that year won their races.

But Brown wrote the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was Churchill’s “spearheading” support of a BCS Board of Education resolution opposing HB 66.

Churchill said she supported the resolution, which the board unanimously approved, but did not lead it.

“Churchill needs to come clean and admit she does not have the students and parents of Buncombe County’s best interests at heart,” Brown wrote in the letter. “If she did, she would have embraced HB66 as the right way to vote for school board members.”

Churchill, 52, has been a BCS school board member for 10 years and is the former president of the North Carolina School Board Association. 

One of the reasons she wanted to talk publicly about the assault charge, she said, was because “all of this type of behavior from the national stage on down is why we are in this hot mess … right now with not being able to have any type of civil debate or agree to disagree.”

“Maybe if more people do start speaking up, or maybe if 30 years ago, somebody started to speak up, maybe certain politicians wouldn’t have even been in office.”

‘I still believe in a lot of the Republican ideals’

Her censuring was not the first time Churchill has been disciplined by the party, she said. In December 2022 the party removed her from its executive committee because of her support for Democrat-backed school board candidates. In March 2023, members banned her from voting on 2024 GOP convention delegates. 

In 2021, Churchill garnered a reputation for opposing widely held conservative values on issues such as masking in schools.

A respiratory therapist, she said, she would go to work treating patients on ventilators during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic after hearing outcry at the previous night’s school board meeting about how detrimental masks were to children’s health.

“It’s like, you’re talking to somebody who is going to leave this meeting and the next day, go into an intensive care unit and take care of 40-year-olds with small children, or 35-year-olds with small children, on ventilators because of COVID,” she said, noting that at one such meeting, one of the anti-maskers was then Republican U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn. “And they could not understand why they couldn’t change my mind by screaming and yelling at me.”

Despite party members making clear to her that she is not welcome, she said she plans to stay a Republican, saying the only way to get rid of her will be through the democratic process.

“My family are Republicans, so I’m a Republican,” she said. “I still believe in a lot of the Republican ideals and would love to see us get back to them.”

But the party’s current course isn’t for her, she said, adding “I’m a never Trumper, by the way.”

Churchill’s board seat is up for grabs in 2024. She said she plans to run for it.

“At the end of the day, you can say anything you want about me. You can censure me all you want. You can talk smack about me on social media. You can try to get me kicked off the school board. But the way to handle it is through elections. And you cannot become physical with somebody. That’s just not right.”

Asheville Watchdog is a nonprofit news team producing stories that matter to Asheville and Buncombe County. Andrew R. Jones is a Watchdog investigative reporter. Email arjones@avlwatchdog.org. To show your support for this vital public service go to avlwatchdog.org/donate.

30 replies on “Buncombe GOP chair accused of assault after Republican school board member says he shoved her at town hall”

  1. It would be nice if more Republicans stood up for principles rather than just the party. Free thought seems to not be respected.

  2. Kudos to her for standing up against the unhinged extremists of her party. They are dangerous to us all.

    1. It’s easy to say something broad like ‘ unhinged extremists of her party, that they are a danger’. Who are all these people, especially locally since the article is about local, and what did they say?

  3. Welcome to Asheville where divisiveness reigns supreme. All retirees do your due diligence before moving here. City leadership is subpar. City services are subpar. Health care is somewhere south of subpar with an HCA hospital that has an ED wait time of days sometime. We have half a police force because no LEO’s want to come where they aren’t supported by the city. Don’t judge this book by the TDA’s fantasy cover. It’s nasty, overrun with homeless, violent crime is growing and we are sinking fast.

    1. Don’t you get sick of spewing this negative rhetoric? The majority of people in Asheville are contributing in the way they can to make this a good community to live and work in. It’s not perfect by any means, but what is? If you’re not doing or saying something to improve things, you’re part of the problem. So sick of the divisiveness? Look in the mirror.

    2. I’m a retiree here (2019) and I love Asheville. Sure there are some unhoused people but it’s a city. What do you expect? I love the restaurants, the weather, the people and the scenery. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Mission Hospital and most of my doctors are simply excellent. I’m thrilled by the expansion of our Greenways and look forward to all our new developments (hotels, apartments, businesses, and houses). Everything does not have to be perfect for life to be great.

    3. Sorry, but if it’s such a nasty place, and you don’t have the ambition or ability to help set it right, then, for your ( and everyone else’s) peace of mind, you should move on. “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

    1. Actually, as an independent, I have seen more hate from the democrats than I ever want to know and see. Their philosophy of “think our way or die” kinda gives one heartburn. Parties should be a thing of the past.

  4. Amy Churchill…ewww. She’s as bad as Tricia Cotham. I don’t hear anyone complaining about that though. 🙄

  5. So when you ‘belong’ to a party, you don’t REALLY have a vote, you are just part of a human blob that is expected to move like a blob, all in the same direction, all the time? And if you break off from the blob, you are ‘censured’? And, it sounds like, potentially physically shoved?
    What is this, middle school?

    1. Most people join a party because they align themselves with that party platform or principles. Amy seems to have joined out of spite. Perhaps, like many she should change her party affiliation to one that fits her better or become unaffiliated. Imagine if she were a Democrat just out of spite.

      1. I have known Amy personally for 20 years – she has always been a Republican; her parents are Republicans. She did not join out of spite.
        The school board is supposed to be non-partisan. Amy just does what she thinks is right. Kudos to her!

  6. I’d like to see more Republicans support Democrats, and vice versa. Enough of this “my party right or wrong.”

  7. The GOP has devolved into a cult that seeks power purely for the reason of having power. Kudos to Ms. Churchill for trying to bring sanity back to her party but I’m afraid she is tilting at windmills.

    1. Actually, I would disagree. Both sides treat their followers as cult members. If you follow either side in a way of blind devotion, you should consider yourself in a cult.

  8. Brown says Churchill supported Democrat candidates for the School Board. Why is that a problem?? School board races for decades have been nonpartisan due to the belief that the public should elect candidates who truly care about students and educators and want to support them regardless of their party. Only their commitment to public education should matter, which, quite frankly, seems to go against the Republican agenda these days, judging from the bills in the state legislature and observing bad behavior at school board meetings. Kudos to Churchill and all those who truly care about public education, not political agendas.

  9. The BCGOP leadership needs to get in tune with the area’s present demographics’ viewpoints if it ever wants to regain any county or AVL elected positions — otherwise change the symbol from the elephant to the dodo bird.

  10. kudos to Mrs. Churchill for standing up to the bullies in the Buncombe GOP. When we vote for school board members, their political party is not listed on the ballot. it is a non partisan vote. Why? Because it does not matter! School board members should be voted in based on their vision for the school system, not their political affiliation. It used to be that I had no clue what party school board members were affiliated with. Now, even without it being listed on the ballot, it’s pretty easy to guess which side of the aisle they fall on by looking at their campaign pages and what they want to see happen in our schools.

  11. Used to be school boards were about the kids, now its about the issues the parents are hung up on, like gender and race and banning books and political parties.

  12. I would respectfully like to point out that the Republicans are not the only party guilty of eating their own. Recently, some Dems have left their party over being punished by their colleagues for not towing the party line. One here in NC., and one in I believe fulton county Ga. The one in Ga. left because she bucked her party and (God forbid) the all powerful teachers union by supporting school choice. Students in her district scored single digits in math and reading and yet the Dems demanded she vote against school choice. Now they are both Republicans.

    1. Amy does not support school choice or perhaps any Republican principles. Therein lies the problem.

  13. It’s wonderful to see a Republican who actually thinks for herself, believes in the right to disagree with the party and adheres to traditional GOP values instead of blindly adhering to “doctrine”. That’s the way the parties used to operate in the country back when people believed that members of both parties loved this country and just had different perspectives on what the best solution was for a particular issue — back in the days when “compromise” and “negotiation” were not dirty words.

    1. please google mesha mainor and tricia cotham. let me know how thinking for themselves and bucking their party worked out for them.

  14. I cannot imagine serving on the school board in the county. Remember this is the the district that made national news for unhinged parents mad that their children were still wearing masks and literally screaming, behaving far worse than the kids.

    Amy is a respiratory therapist who probably witnessed many patients dying during the pandemic. God Bless America. This is a micro-example of challenges seen all over the nation.

  15. There were at least 50 people at the meeting where the ‘assault’ allegedly took place, lots of people before, during and after. If someone was being pushed it would have been noticed. I was there and nothing like that happened. Asheville Watchdog is irresponsible for writing a story that Amy Churchill raced over to them the next day, on only her word. Where are witness statements for her claims in the article? Amy has been asked to stay away from our meetings. She uses her Republican registration to brazenly work against us, making it look like there is a conservative voice when the opposite is true. In response to the article, it is revealing to see in the comments those that want this story to be true. They like to say without any specifics, how Republicans hate. But hate is taking aim at an innocent person with a contrived story, to set them back, take up their time, and attempt to get them in trouble. Chairman Brown will have none of this. He will continue his work. This story is paper thin, and shame on the Watchdog for not seeing it for what it is.

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