Alexandria, VA

Dozens of protestors once again demonstrated outside the Alexandria home of acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Sunday, vowing to keep up the pressure with future demonstrations.

“The narrative in this country says that we are violent rioters, and we are not,” a protest leader said. “We are peaceful protesters and the violence is coming to us at the hands of the state, at the hands of mercenaries under the employ of DHS. We call them federal agents. They are contractors. These are privately employed people who don’t have accountable training.”

Two weeks ago, a group gathered outside Wolf’s North Ridge home and demanded that he take federal troops from U.S. cities experiencing unrest in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. That protest was organized by Shut Down DC, and this Sunday’s was organized by local Alexandria residents.

“We don’t have commanders in chief that we can talk to at a lower level than the very top,” a protestor said. “That’s why we’re outside Chad Wolf’s house. If we knew a bunch of other houses we could go to, we’d be there, too.”

Protestors demonstrated against the constitutionality of Operation Legend, where federal resources have been deployed to quell unrest in cities throughout the country. Once again, Wolf’s next door neighbors provided food and refreshments for protestors.

Wolf is the second DHS secretary to have protestors outside his Alexandria home. In 2018, protestors angry about family separations and arrests at the border collected outside the Old Town home of then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“I don’t think at this point that Chad Wolf really deserves to be comfortable,” a protest organizer told ALXnow. “We want to let him know that people are watching, that we haven’t forgotten. Over time, this behavior starts to be normalized. This is not normal, and it’s very possible that we’re going to be protesting here every other weekend.”

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It was a busy week in Alexandria.

Alexandria Police apprehended the suspect in the city’s only murder this year, and he is currently in the hospital suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Additionally, violent crime events are happening throughout the city, and in the Parker Gray neighborhood of Old Town and in the West End in particular. This week saw the fourth shooting in Old Town in less than a month.

The number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, as well, and the president of Inova Alexandria Hospital discussed some of her concerns in the days ahead.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. BREAKING: Alexandria Police Ask for Public Help in Finding Man Wanted for Murder
  2. Alexandria’s COVID-19 Death Count at 60, Hospital Concerned About Rising Cases
  3. BREAKING: Police Investigating Homicide in West End Residential Community
  4. BREAKING: Murder Suspect Was Released After COVID-19 Court Delay, Allegedly Kills Former Girlfriend Before Trial
  5. Alexandria Police Chief Criticized by Staff Over Officer Fired for Unjustified Use of Force
  6. Activists Protest at Alexandria Home of Acting DHS Chief Chad Wolf
  7. Police Investigate Fourth Shots Fired Call in Old Town in Less Than a Month
  8. ACPS to Cut Down 150-Year-Old Tree This Month to Make Way for Concession Stand
  9. Man Injured in Violent Carjacking in Old Town
  10. BREAKING: ACPS Announces Online-Only School in the Fall
  11. West End Silver Diner Opens Next Week but Harris Teeter Won’t Open Until Next Year

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via Alexandria Police Department

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Alexandria activists are planning another protest at the home of acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf this Sunday.

In an email, activists said to meet at the intersection of Preston Road and Valley Drive on Sunday, Aug. 9, at 10 a.m. for a rally outside the acting secretary’s home along the northern border between Arlington and Alexandria. The protest is planned to oppose Operation Legend, ICE abuses, and DACA restrictions and organizers asked participants to wear masks, bring signs and water.

An earlier protest two weeks ago drew crowds of activists, including City Councilman John Chapman, carrying signs and voicing opposition to Wolf and President Donald Trump.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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It was another busy week in Alexandria.

Our readers overwhelmingly responded to Sunday’s protest at the Alexandria home of acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and the story has more than 380 comments. This week also saw its first homicide, which occurred in the West End, in addition to a number of crime events in the Braddock area.

Not included in our weekly list is late-breaking news on Friday that Alexandria City Public Schools want a virtual-only school year starting in September. Residents have been waiting throughout the summer for the school system to make up its mind, and ACPS has conducted numerous virtual chats with students, parents and staff over the last several weeks.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. Activists Protest at Alexandria Home of Acting DHS Chief Chad Wolf
  2. BREAKING: Police Investigating Homicide in West End Residential Community
  3. Former APD Officer Peter Laboy Gets His Driver’s License Seven Years After Being Shot in the Head
  4. Just Listed in Alexandria
  5. Students and Residents Putting Daily Cover Over T.C. Williams High School Name
  6. BREAKING: Flooding Reported in Parts of City, AFD Responding to Multiple Emergency Calls
  7. Shots Fired Tuesday Night in Braddock Neighborhood
  8. Alexandria Delegate Wants City to Fire Officials or Police Who Espouse QAnon Theories
  9. Save the Tree Petition at T.C. Williams High School Garners Nearly 1,000 Signatures
  10. Man Injured in Violent Carjacking in Old Town
  11. COVID-19 Update: Deaths at 57, Case Count at 2,735 in Alexandria

Have a safe and fun weekend!

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Dozens of protestors demonstrated outside the Alexandria home of acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Sunday, and called for him to end actions against protestors throughout the country by federal agents.

“We live among the people who are wreaking havoc on this country,” one protestor said. “He goes out and commits these atrocities every day. He’s not elected. He’s not Senate confirmed. He is an acting appointee of Donald Trump… We will not be good Germans. We will not be the people who sat by and watched our neighbors commit these atrocities.”

Alexandria has had a number of peaceful protests since the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of the police, however other protests, such as in Portland, Oregon, are currently being suppressed by federal agents at the direction of Wolf, who appeared on Fox News on Sunday defending the deployments.

A majority of the protestors wore masks, and only City Councilman John Taylor Chapman was an identifiable public figure who attended the event. He recorded it on his phone and did not provide a comment. Wolf’s next-door neighbors provided water and snacks for protestors and said that he is otherwise a nice neighbor who does not talk about work.

Jonathan Krall, executive director of Grassroots Alexandria, said that Wolf is at the center of a fearful endeavor for the country.

“He is sending people out to behave like secret police,” Krall said. “He’s attempting to change the standard by which our police behave in the country. Here in Alexandria, we’re fighting for police data transparency. We need police be more transparent in all all levels, and he’s (Wolf is) doing the opposite. The people being picked up without documentation, without any record of why they’re being arrested completely destroys accountability, and you need accountability in policing.”

It was not the first time protestors have appeared outside the home of a DHS Secretary. In 2018, protestors angry about family separations and arrests at the border collected outside the Old Town home of then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Proud to protest outside the home of Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of DHS and Trump puppet. We must end Trump's use of…

Posted by Paul Alan Friedman on Sunday, July 26, 2020

Staff photos by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Rally for Rent Relief Today at Courthouse — “Join us to demand that Governor Northam stop evictions and redirect $1 billion for rent relief. Wednesday, July 1 at 11 am outside the Alexandria Courthouse.” [Facebook]

Longtime Alexandria Firefighter Retires — “AFD would like to congratulate Captain Sam Parker on his retirement after over 33 years of dedicated service to the citizens of Alexandria. We wish him all the best as he begins his next chapter!” [Twitter]

Le Refuge Restaurant Reopening — “🍴🍷BONJOUR🍷🍴!!!! We are very excited to announce that we are reopening MONDAY JULY 6TH!!! Thank you so much for your patience and understanding,We cannot wait to see everyone!!!” [Facebook]

Pedego Electric Bikes Closed Next Week — “Pedego Alexandria will be closed from July 5th through July 12th for a much needed and highly anticipated family vacation! Feel free to call and leave a message or send us an email and we will get back to you when we can.” [Facebook]

Kidcreate Studio Crafts New Approach — “Kidcreate Studio hosted its grand opening March 14 — the day after Alexandria and Fairfax County closed schools to slow the spread of coronavirus.” [Alexandria Living]

New Job: Experienced Sushi Chef — “Kaizen Tavern is looking for a Sushi Chef to join the team. We offer a great salary, benefits and the opportunity to grow a business together. The position is meant for a skilled, passionate chef. Work with a dedicated team of culinary and hospitality professionals, who are committed to providing the absolute best experience for their guests.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Lauds Supreme Court LGBT Decision — “This is such a big step forward. Employers shouldn’t be able to fire people because of who they are or who they love. After a long and difficult struggle by activists and civil rights organization, an historic decision and a great moment for the country.” [Twitter]

Former Mayor Silberberg Marched in D.C. on Saturday — “All around me, there were poignant reminders of all that had transpired in this location in recent days and weeks — handmade signs attached to the remaining fence and bouquets of flowers. And then that evening, there was breaking news about another tragedy, this time in Atlanta. Heartbreaking.” [Facebook]

Twig Junior Auxiliary Donates $100K to Inova Alexandria Hospital — “The Twig Junior Auxiliary of Inova Alexandria Hospital presented a check for $100,000 to Dr. Rina Bansal for the Inova COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness Fund during a May 22 ceremony held outside the hospital’s entrance.” [Gazette]

Feed The Fight ALX Gives Out 5K Meals to Health Care Workers — “Thank you for your continued support, and please continue to follow us in the coming months on Instagram @FeedtheFightALX. We are so grateful to all of our hospital teams and restaurant partners.” [Facebook]

City Recycles 700 Tons of Glass in First Year of Recycling Program — “The City just hit the 1-year mark for the glass recycling program. In that time, 700 tons of glass (1,410,560 lbs) has been recycled through the purple can glass drop-off program. You crushed it Alexandria!” [Facebook]

‘Mind The Mat’ Owner Gets Creative During Pandemic — “I was trying to be this super-serious fitness instructor on camera, and it was not working.” [Washington Post]

Recreation Centers Opening With Modified Schedule June 20 — “These changes are in place to follow the second phase of reopening. Senior-only hours will be introduced to help protect vulnerable persons on the community while providing an opportunity for exercise.” [Zebra]

Scholarship Fund Honoring Awardees With Individualized Social Media Posts — “We’ll be profiling a student each day this week…as they share their joy and gratitude with the Alexandria Community!” [Facebook]

Center for Alexandria’s Children Receives Face Mask Donation — “We received another donation of 100 adult masks and 100 children’s masks for our Learn & PlayGroup families! We are so grateful to Brooksie & Cas and Jenna Adams for investing so much time and energy into making so many great masks.” [Facebook]

Deal: Rent a Pedego Electric Bike, Get Second Rental Half Off — “Pedego Electric Bikes has the perfect solution for cabin fever. Rent one bike and get the second rental 50% off. Enjoy the outdoors, flowers and sunshine with the safest bikes and equipment from Pedego. This offer will be available until further notice.” [Visit Alexandria]

New Job: HR/Office Manager — “Small but busy security company in need of an experienced HR professional who can really multitask. Candidate should be comfortable screening, interviewing and on-boarding applicants.” [Indeed]

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Hundreds of gun rights activists met at protested outside City Hall on Saturday, some of them armed to the teeth with handguns, AR-15 assault weapons and even muskets.

The protest was organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, and demonstrators rallied against new ordinances proposed by the City of Alexandria to limit the carrying of guns on city property. Alexandria Police were on-hand during the event, and there were a few arguments that broke out between protestors and passersby.

“The whole country looks like it’s turned upside down right now,” VCDL President Philip Van Cleave said on stage. “I’m not the only one looking at it that way. Everybody I’m talking to is just shaking their heads, ‘What happened? What’s happening?’ And it only reminds me all the more of how sacred how important that right is to be able to protect ourselves.”

David Britt of Fairfax sat at the large fountain at Market Square with his AR-15, and said if the ordinances banning weapons on city property pass that he will likely not visit Alexandria in the future.

“I love Alexandria,” Britt told ALXnow. “I normally don’t bring this (the AR-15), but I do have my concealed carry that I have with me all the time. But with these new regulations that they’re talking about, I would be illegal standing here.”

Britt got his concealed carry permit five years ago and has never pulled out his gun in public.

“I hope I never do,” he said.

Gun activists demonstrated in Alexandria last September when a man walked through the Farmer’s Market (at the same location outside City Hall) carrying weapons and alarming some patrons. The man later stood outside Del. Mark Levine’s Old Town home in protest of Levine’s proposed assault weapons ban.

Chuck Smith, a Republican candidate for Virginia Attorney General, spoke at the event.

“The next attorney general of Virginia will be pro-America, pro-Virginia, pro-Trump, pro-life, a 100% gun-toting, card-carrying supporter of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution,” Smith told the audience. “Without the Second Amendment, we have nothing.”

Staff photos by James Cullum

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Local seniors who once marched for Civil Rights rallied over the last week to show their support for a new generation they see as carrying on the torch in an ongoing fight against racism and injustice.

Seniors at both Goodwin House communities — in Alexandria (4800 Fillmore Avenue) and Bailey’s Crossroads (3440 S Jefferson Street) — that couldn’t attend local vigils and rallies decided to host some of their own in their facilities.

Staff said at in Alexandria nearly 80 residents and staff gathered in our courtyard area for a silent vigil held to honor George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis sparked international protests. At the Bailey’s Crossroads, residents couldn’t leave the facility but made signs that decorated the nearby street to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

At the Alexandria location, a chaplain offered a prayer and song, followed by 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence. Staff said the ceremony was broadcast on the internal TV channel for those residents are who are unable or uncomfortable leaving their apartments.

The vigils and surrounding activities started with a group of advocates in the Bailey’s Crossroads facility called the Silver Panther Huddles.

“We started after the Women’s March on Washington, to do advocacy works,” said Carol Lewis, one of the organizers and a resident of the Bailey’s Crossroads facility. “One of the women in that group had the idea of doing something to honor George Floyd, but she was in quarantine. She had to stay in her apartment and couldn’t take it over, but word got passed along to the rest of the women in the huddle.”

Protesting injustice is something many of the residents of Goodwin House were familiar with long before they moved into the senior-care facility.

“We had people in our 80s, or in our 90s, and some were some of the people here were working on Civil Rights things in the ’40s and ’50s,” said Margaret Sullivan, one of the lead organizers of the vigil. “We had people who had been at the March on Washington when MLK spoke, but we also had with us some of our younger staff members who have come to the United States as children and were both participating in their own right and watching people who had done it before. We were in a sense keeping on with the work and passing it on.”

Lewis said many of those in Goodwin House spent their formative years protesting. Lewis recalled her own involvement with the Poor People’s March on Washington and traveling, against the wishes of her parents, to anti-war protests in the ’60s.

“Many of the women on the huddle and live here were part of the earlier protests and the Civil Rights movements,” Lewis said. “One of the first things Margaret [Sullivan] did when she opened the vigil was to ask about people who did this work in the ’40s and there were a couple of hands, more from the ’60s.”

Sullivan said that when the director of Goodwin House found out that the residents at the Bailey’s Crossroads facility were planning a vigil, they stepped in to help coordinate the activity with the Alexandria location. Sullivan noted that it was also a chance for employees at the facility who have been unable to attend the marches in D.C. to show their support.

“A member of the staff said afterward how pleased she was to see this at her work,” Sullivan said. “Another member of the staff was very clear before we started said that she, as a young black woman, wanted to go down to the (National) Mall and the White House and march. She and many of the other staff members who had been involved in Goodwin House and Civil Rights things for years had not gone because they didn’t want to bring the virus back, but they were as determined to be a part of this and to keep silence and honor George Floyd and speak out for justice as we were.”

Lewis said that many old residents said similarities to the fights they experienced in their lifetime, from Civil Rights to demonstrations in support of the gay, lesbian and transgender communities.

“What I sensed this time around, with these vigils and protests, there seems to be a real chance for change,” Lewis said. “Of course I thought that in the ’60s too.”

Sullivan joked that many seniors wanted to break out of the facility and march nearby in support, but that concerns about the still lingering COVID-19 — which has been particularly fatal in Alexandria’s senior care facilities — kept them from doing so.

“We’re all old and creaky, a good number of us are in walkers and wheelchairs, but for me and for a lot of the people here, it was a chance to do something — to be involved again,” Lewis said, “and to let people know that this didn’t happen yesterday. Racism isn’t new and it wasn’t new in the ’60s either. It goes way back. It was a very somber experience, but quite touching.”

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A large gun activism group in Virginia is planning a protest this weekend against new ordinances proposed by the City of Alexandria to limit the carrying of guns on city property.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) announced on its website that a protest will be held in Market Square outside of City Hall (301 King Street) from 2-6 p.m. with speakers scheduled to address the group at 3 p.m.

“The City of Alexandria is moving forward with public comment and a vote on a proposed ordinance to ban guns completely in government buildings, parks, recreation and community centers, and at permitted events and adjoining streets,” the VCDL said. “City Council had a chance to drop the proposed ordinance on Tuesday night, but did not.  They made a minor amendment that did nothing significant for gun owners and voted to move forward with the public comment period and final vote on Saturday, June 20.”

The ordinance would make it a misdemeanor to carry a gun in government buildings or property, like parks, and at or near permitted events.

The minor change added was allowing historical reenactors to carry firearms at demonstrations or two and from those events, provided the weapons weren’t loaded or fireable. Several speakers at the public meeting lamented that the sweeping ban would mean that legal gun owners could inadvertently be breaking the law just passing through a pocket park or near where an event is taking place.

The organization encouraged gun owners from outside Alexandria to come into the area to support the protest.

“If passed, this ordinance would take effect on Wednesday, July 1, and would make criminals out of peaceful gun owners for merely being on a street that abuts a permitted event, or walking through any one of a myriad of public parks, or to go in City Hall to pay their taxes!” the VCDL said. “As gun owners, we need to stand together and fight gun control as a team.  Gun owners should come to protests, even if they are in different localities.  Fairfax, Falls Church, Prince William, Arlington, and Loudoun gun owners need to support Alexandria gun owners and vice versa.  An attack on the gun-rights of any of us, is an attack on all of us!”

This isn’t the first time gun activists have held demonstrations in Alexandria. Last September, a group called The Right to Bear Arms walked through the Farmer’s Market carrying weapons and alarming some patrons. The same protestor stood outside Del. Mark Levine’s Old Town home in protest to a ban on assault weapons that Levine proposed.

“A large turnout will send a strong message to any other localities that are considering following in Alexandria’s foot steps,” the VCDL said, “that gun owners are NOT going to meekly accept ANY restrictions on our right to protect ourselves and our families!”

The group advised protestors to stay on the sidewalks and public areas and not to block roadways, sidewalks, or entrances to businesses.

“We are there to protest one thing and one thing only: City Council’s proposed ordinance to strip us of our right to self-defense,” the VCDL said. “Do NOT be goaded by any bystanders into addressing any ANY other issues. Stay on point. I have notified the police department that we will be there to peacefully protest.”

The group did note that Alexandria does not allow people to carry a loaded firearm with a magazine in it that will hold more than 20 rounds or has a threaded barrel or a collapsible stock without a concealed handgun permit. So, if you have one of those you were hoping to show off in Old Town this weekend, best to leave it at home.

Photo via VCDL/Facebook

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) Alexandrians came out in droves on Thursday and Friday in support of George Floyd and a number of African Americans who have died at the hands of the police.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said at a peaceful demonstration at Charles Houston Recreation Center that there needs to be a revolution within local government to pass legislation that helps residents of color.

“Sometimes in an argument someone says, the words, ‘Calm down,’ and then 100% of the time that does not work,” Wilson told the crowd. “Let me say to you tonight, do not calm down.”

Alexandria resident Ivory Bean took the stage at Charles Houston just as Police Chief Michael Brown was about to speak.

“You should not think you are above the law, and these things give you the power and give you the feeling that you’re above the law,” Bean said. “And when the law protects you in murdering people, then it just continues the cycle. So, until the law stops protecting these murderers, that’s when you won’t see us anymore. That’s how you will pacify us.”

Brown said that he and the officers in his department consider the Floyd killing a homicide, and that Alexandria police are aware that changes need to be made in the city.

“I will be listening,” Brown said. “I listened here. I’m not your enemy, and I understand I have to earn your respect and black lives do matter.”

James Daniely, the pastor at Roberts Memorial United Methodist Church, spoke as well.

“When we talk about Black Lives Matter, it’s not just political rhetoric,” Daniely said. “It has to do with how the minds work, to allocate housing, not just three houses in a new development, but to see that people who live in the community have an opportunity to stay there.”

Another vigil is planned tonight (Friday) at 7 p.m. at Tenants and Workers United in Arlandria.

Inova Alexandria Hospital physicians, leaders and team members joined healthcare professionals across the country…

Posted by Inova Alexandria Hospital on Friday, June 5, 2020

Staff photos by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

High School Student Assaulted Walking Home — “The assault occurred near the intersection of Russell Road and Rosecrest Avenue in the Del Ray/Rosemont neighborhood. The victim was a member of the T.C. Williams High School baseball team.” [Alex Times]

Officers Complain of Toxic Work Culture at Alexandria Police Department — “There are employees, including some who resigned after allegedly being subjected to retribution, who blame Chief Michael L. Brown for establishing an environment without discipline or accountability, where misconduct is swept under the rug. They say that under Chief Brown’s leadership, problems have gotten worse, which has fueled retirements and resignations from the department.” [Alex Times]

Vigil for Victims of Police Brutality Tonight in Arlandria — “Let’s join in solidarity with our Black community. Please bring a candle, poster, or other tribute to honor the lives lost at the hands of police. We will gather in the parking lot behind TWU’s building at 3801 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. For everyone’s safety, please wear a face covering.” [Facebook]

fibrespace Gives May 31 Profits to ‘Innocence Project’ — ‘Thanks to your shopping, we sent almost a thousand dollars today to this incredible organization who is working to exonerate the innocent and reform our broken criminal justice system.” [Facebook]

George Mason Elementary Donates Books to Community Lodgings — “The principal, Mr. O., was so generous to collect the books and spread them around the lawn at Fifer so that families could select books while maintaining a safe distance from one another.” [Facebook]

Virtual Concert Saturday Benefiting Senior Services of Alexandria — “100 percent of your contributions to the Löwball virtual tip jar for our June 6th webcast will go to support SSA Meals on Wheels program.” [Facebook]

Wesley Housing Closes on Affordable Housing Near Huntington Metro — “Located at 2317 Huntington Avenue, The Arden will be a seven-story building at the intersection of Huntington Avenue and Biscayne Drive.” [Zebra]

New Job: Brand and Public Relations Specialist — “The Specialist, Brand and Public Relations is a core member of the SHRM Brand and Communication team with responsibilities to support national TV commercials, brand activations, PR campaigns and earned media to amplify SHRM’s thought leadership and reputation.” [Indeed]

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