Alexandria, VA

Police confirmed last week that roughly one-third of the the shootings last year were connected.

In 2020, Alexandria experienced an increase in shots fired calls with a total of 55 confirmed cases as compared to 37 in 2019. One-third of those occurred last fall, between September and December.

So far this year there have been three confirmed shots fired incidents, with two of them taking place a block apart.

Police said in a press release that they are working with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on the case and have made 20 arrests.

Anyone who hears gunfire is asked to call Alexandria Police Sgt. William Taylor at 703-746-6271. Callers can remain anonymous.

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An Alexandria hotel faced some public scrutiny for housing Proud Boys and other right wing factions before the Capitol Hill riot, but now the Holiday Inn Alexandria-Carlyle is facing pressure from elected leadership to cancel reservations for identified extremists.

The hotel drew national attention before the protest as the lodging for the white nationalist group and a planned protest was cancelled after it allegedly received death threats.

Alexandria Vice-Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker sent a letter to the hotels asking them to cancel reservations for guests who publicly identify with one of the extremist groups reportedly planning to gather between Sunday, Jan. 17 and Wednesday, Jan. 20 to disrupt the inauguration of Joe Biden as President.

Yesterday, Airbnb announced that it would cancel all reservations in D.C. as security tightens for the inauguration events. HotelTonight reservations are also being cancelled. In December, a D.C. hotel that served as a rallying point for Proud Boys closed during a planned rally, leaving some of the group’s plans in disarray.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Beyer Urges Senate to Remove Trump After House Impeachment — “Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States, and a menace to the Constitution. The events of the past week, my conscience, my oath of office, and my duty to the people of Northern Virginia allow no other course than to vote for his impeachment. I urge the Senate to remove him from office as swiftly as possible.” [Beyer.house.gov]

Police Seeking Alexandria Man For Assaulting Woodbridge Boy — “Ian M. Simpson is wanted after police said he attempted to strangle an 8-year-old boy during after two arguments between the two relatives.” [Patch]

Police: Business Robbed on N. Quaker Lane Wednesday Morning — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a robbery from a business in the 1600 block of N. Quaker Lane. It happened around 5:45am. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

WATCH: Governor Northam Gives State of Commonwealth Speech — “My 2021 State of the Commonwealth address is starting–watch live.” [Twitter]

Poll Opens to Select New Names for T.C. Williams High and Matthew Maury Elementary Schools — “Between now and Jan. 27, we are asking everyone to help us whittle down names that have been suggested by our students over the last month. Don’t like any of the options you see? The community will also be given another chance to make suggestions at this time.” [Zebra]

Casa Chirilagua Gets Desk Donations from Building Momentum — “Casa Chirilagua, a non-profit serving the Arlandria neighborhood in northern Virginia near Reagan National Airport, has been one of the largest recipients and distributors of the desks. Adriana Gómez Schellhaas, executive director of Casa Chirilagua, said the non-profit has distributed over 50 desks to homes and learning centers in their community.” [USChamber.com]

Today’s Weather — “Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High near 55F. Winds light and variable… A few clouds from time to time in the evening. Low 31F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Experienced Servers at Mia’s Italian Kitchen — “We are searching for Experienced Servers to join our Team at Mia’s in OLD TOWN” [Indeed]

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(Updated 1:25 p.m.) It’s been a couple weeks since plans for Inova Health System to spearhead redevelopment of Landmark Mall were announced, and in the last few days more details have emerged.

In a meeting last night, developers outlined plans to build a state-of-the-art medical facility with a trauma center, helipad, 230 patient rooms and more. The project will also reportedly come with 4 million square feet of new development, including housing, retail, and other uses.

What will happen to the current Inova site on Seminary Hill when the hospital moves is less clear. The property is currently planned to be rezoned for residential development.

Image via City of Alexandria

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Two years after it filmed in Alexandria’s Landmark Mall and D.C., Wonder Woman 1984 was released on HBO on Christmas.

The revived Landmark Mall is featured in an early action sequence, thought the exterior shots of the mall changed the name and Fairfax County police — not Alexandria — are featured in the scene. In 1984, the mall would have also been an outdoor mall, as the mall was only enclosed in 1990. The film also features several scenes in Georgetown and other parts of D.C.

Locals online said they got a kick out of seeing Landmark Mall in a restored state before its turned into a hospital.

If you saw the movie, do you think it lived up to the hype? Sound off in the comments:

Photo via Warner Brothers

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We’re coming up on an unusual Christmas at the end of 2020.

Thanksgiving gatherings resulted in an increase in coronavirus cases and — while Inova is holding steady with hospitalizations — there is a continued increase in COVID-19 cases in Alexandria.

Alexandria Health Director Dr. Stephen Haering urged locals not to travel for the holidays if they could avoid it.

“Traveling for celebrations is a hallmark of these holidays but is especially risky with the COVID-19 increases across the country,” Haering said. “If you can’t avoid traveling, know your travel risk and consider getting tested both before and after traveling, particularly if you are visiting or returning home to someone at high risk of severe illness. Keep in mind that the virus can take between 2-14 days to incubate. AHD recommends that you wait about 7-10 days after a gathering or travel to get tested.”

Even distanced, the CDC warned that gathering with friends or family who do not live with you can increase your chance of spreading COVID-19.

Are you risking that to gather with family or are you planning something smaller with the folks you live with. Sound off in the comments if you have other plans.

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Big things are in the works in the city. The proposed police review panel is coming back to the City Council in January, but discussions still rage in the community over what authority it should have. New plans are also moving forward for Potomac Yard, while the question of whether or not the Virginia Tech initials will be added to the name remains up in the air.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. Police: Three Children Safe After Being Found in ‘Deplorable’ Conditions in West End Home
  2. Mayor: Household Contact Primary Source of COVID Transmission in Alexandria
  3. Restaurants and Other Businesses for Sale in Alexandria
  4. Poll: Should the Police Review Board Have Subpoena and Disciplinary Power?
  5. Carpenter’s Shelter Plans Virtual Ribbon-Cutting for New Braddock Shelter This Week
  6. Planning Commission Approves Potomac Yard Park Expansion
  7. Women’s Clothing Store LOFT Closes in Old Town
  8. ACPS Faces Reopening With Around Half of Staff Still Unwilling to Return
  9. After CARES: City Plans for Looming Collapse of Food Security and Housing Funding
  10. Southern Towers Residents Protest Eviction Amid Pandemic

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Alexandria’s police department leadership has openly supported calls for reform in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, but a central pillar of that reform — more civilian oversight of the police — has hit a stumbling block.

City Councilman Mo Seifeldein has spearheaded a plan to set up a civilian board to independently investigate allegations of police misconduct. The board was unanimously approved despite concerns from Police Chief Michael L. Brown, but Seifeldein has been vocally frustrated that attempts to give the board teeth by having greater investigative and disciplinary power have gone nowhere.

The City Council is scheduled to take another look at the structure and powers of the police review board in January.

City officials, local advocates, and former Alexandria police have all weighed in; outlining both the risks of giving the board too much power over the department and concerns about the board having too little.

The primary debate is whether or not the board should have the power to subpoena people — ordered to give witness testimony — and the power to demote or even fire officers.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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This weekend was both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, and for many local stores it was a hope that holiday shopping could keep local stores alive into 2021.

If you didn’t shop local, it’s not too late to show some support for small businesses in Alexandria: Visit Alexandria is currently sponsoring a Shop Small Week scheduled to run through Sunday, Dec. 6.

For those Alexandrians looking to get holiday shopping done, or just looking to take advantage of sales, did you shop online or in person? Did you buy from local stores or go to some of the larger retailers and Amazon?

Tell us in the poll below and sound off in the comments if you were particularly happy with any local purchase this weekend.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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With the Alexandria School Board approving changing the names of two Alexandria schools, the question is what to call the school formerly known as T.C. Williams High School?

Several alternatives have been raised in online forums and in meetings. Some have suggested other local figures that could replace Thomas Chambliss Williams, including longtime former principal John Porter or Petey Jones, a member of the 1971 championship team and an employee at the school who died last year.

The specter of the 1971 championship and the 2000 Disney film Remember the Titans hangs over much of the renaming discussion, with one of the more popular replacement names being Boone-Yoast High School in honor of coaches Herman Boone and Bill Yoast — though others are equally quick to note that movies somewhat exaggerated Boone’s role in integrating the school.

Some have suggested keeping the iconic initials T.C. in the name as a way of both distancing from the original honoring of Williams while celebrating what the high school has come to stand for, though the solution is a halfway measure that could face further pushback from those who advocated for erasing T.C. Williams from the school’s name.

Rather than naming a school after a person, the school could also revert to a more generic name, like Alexandria High School, to avoid future debate or name changes.

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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