A 'Charlottesville' think piece gets it wrong, CPD investigating itself, and Skill Machines may be here to stay.
Good news: Charlottesville featured in the New York Times. Bad News: the story gets a lot wrong
Now we're at the point, I guess, where Charlottesville has become a backdrop that writers haphazardly apply to their think pieces. This NYT story annotated:
[No mention of the many others injured in the car attack.]
"Locally, a surge of activism helped install the city’s first Black female mayor, Nikuyah Walker, and changes have been instituted like the creation of a police civilian review board." [There is still no effective PCRB. See story below]
"At Market Street Park in downtown Charlottesville, where infamous scenes of neo-Nazis carrying tiki torches were broadcast throughout the world..." [That was at UVA.]
"Ms. Walker’s arrival in office was not only a historic first; she is also a progressive who replaced a more centrist mayor. Still, she and the City Council have been pushed by activists seeking to restructure the relationship with the local police department and to give more power to the city’s human rights commission." [No mention of the the current dysfunction in our city government, which promoted one City Councilor to express concern that "toxicity within the city and toward officials" was going to derail any work Charlottesville has started or accomplished regarding climate change, affordable housing and equity. “If we are constantly just at each other’s throats and insulting each other and expressing that we hate each other and we don’t trust each other throughout the community, I worry that we’re going to end up in a situation where we become a laughing stock for the entire state,” the Councilor said.]
"A memorial for Ms. Heyer was constructed near the street where she died." [It's on the street where she died.]
"Ms. Walker did not respond to multiple requests to be interviewed." [They got that right!]
Cville Weekly's Brielle Entzminger actually has a better take on this story here.
Local rap artist accuses the CPD of assaulting him
Here’s one to keep an eye on. According to local rap artist LaQuinn Gilmore, he was harassed, followed, and assaulted by three to five Charlottesville Police Officers on the night of January 11.
From the DP’s Tyler Hammel - "...According to Gilmore, he was driving home when he started to feel nauseated. Gilmore said the nausea has been recurring since he was given antibiotics for a hand injury. Gilmore pulled over on Monticello Avenue, he said, opened his car door, got out and vomited. At that point, a police officer approached him..."
DP - "...According to Gilmore, after the footage was shot [Gilmore shot two videos. Links below] he was tackled by at least three city police officers, who knelt on him and injured him. Gilmore’s brother, who had been watching his livestream of the encounter, came outside and the officers “peeled” off without detaining or charging Gilmore, Gilmore said. Gilmore went to the University of Virginia Medical Center emergency room and says he was diagnosed with a closed head injury, a concussion, contusions on his lower legs, acute bilateral lower back pain and acute post-traumatic headaches, among other injuries. Gilmore was not charged after the incident. Gilmore has since filed an internal affairs complaint with the police department with the assistance of attorney Jeff Fogel.
According the Police Civilian Review Board Chair James M. Watson, the Board has also received a complaint related to this incident. The way the city ordinance is set up currently is the incident will be reviewed by CPD internal affairs. They have 75 days to conduct an investigation. If the Charlottesville Police Department makes a finding of unfounded, exonerated, or not resolved the Complainant may file a Review Request pursuant to Sections 2-450 and 2-451 by the Police Civilian Review Board within seventy-five (75) days of receiving the Charlottesville Police Department finding.
"In short, we are monitoring the case," says Watson. "By the current city ordinance however, at this moment in the process the incident is under review by CPD internal affairs department."
As C-Ville Weekly reported last March, Gilmore was one of the local artists that received aid from the Charlottesville Emergency Relief Fund for Artists, set up to help artists who have lost gigs, gallery shows, and more due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Gilmore…will use his allotment to stay afloat, even if it’s for a short time—his live gigs were canceled and in-studio recording sessions are not social-distancing friendly, so he can’t record new stuff to sell. And his restaurant job’s gone to boot. Even before the pandemic, he says he was struggling to find affordable housing for himself and his daughter.”
Gilmore created a GoFundMe fundraiser a few days after the incident to help with medial expenses.
Councilor Michael Payne gets 'quotes of the day' honors
Daily Progress- “…Payne was concerned that toxicity within the city and toward officials was going to derail any work Charlottesville has started or accomplished regarding climate change, affordable housing and equity.
“If we are constantly just at each other’s throats and insulting each other and expressing that we hate each other and we don’t trust each other throughout the community, I worry that we’re going to end up in a situation where we become a laughing stock for the entire state,” he said.
“There is no glamour to this job,” Payne said. “I’m still driving around with a spare tire on my car because I can’t afford a replacement.”
Michael Payne over on Twitter after City Council meeting:
"If you didn’t know better, it might even seem like Council didn’t just pass money for green retrofitting, eviction prevention, supporting resident-led redevelopment of public housing, Habitat’s COVID response program, and solar job training for Home to Hope participants tonight."
Note: activist Tanesha Hudson started a fundraising campaign to get Payne some tires. Donations included $100 from former City Manager Tarron Richardson. Payne, while thankful, reminded everyone that he couldn't take gifts as a Councilor. So Hudson came up with the idea of starting a Community Loan Program with local tire shops.
Skill Machines could be here to stay
Lawmakers want to keep them around, the Roanake Times reports. One thing I haven't seen much reporting on: how these “Skill Machines” have turned 24-hour convenience stores in town that have them into mini entertainment venues. Rolled up to the 24-hour Everyday Shop & Café on Pantops very late one Saturday night and the parking lost was full of cars!
As you might remember, a Virginia skills machine operator sued the Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney because he sought to ban them, after a little reconnaissance from the VA Democratic Party Chairwoman:
“…One thing for sure, these “skill machine” operators are highly skilled at lobbying state governments. Here in Virginia, for example, Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Swecker is a strategic consultant for the skill game operator mentioned in this Hammel’s story, Queen of Virginia. As the RTD reported last year, when Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania moved to ban the machine in Charlottesville, it was Swecker who made calls to Sen. Creigh Deeds, Del. David Toscano, and Charlottesville City Councilor Mike Signer to get "a lay of the land," she said. Swecker happens to run a government and public relations firm, and was past chairwoman of the ABC Board, which, as mentioned by the DP, licenses and regulates all the businesses where the machines can be placed. Queen of Virginia end up suing Platania…” More...