An Arlington County police officer has become a viral sensation after he was photographed, in uniform, kissing his boyfriend in front of Westboro Baptist Church protesters at the Capital Pride Parade earlier this month.
Officer D.J. Stalter was one of three Arlington officers participating in the parade when he was snapped holding a rainbow flag and smooching boyfriend Mark Raimondo along the parade route. That alone was not overly remarkable, but it was the background of the photo that helped it gain international attention: Westboro Baptist Church members can be seen behind Stalter and Raimondo, holding offensive signs decrying gay marriage and homosexuality.
Headlines on Buzzfeed, the Daily Mail (U.K.) and elsewhere applauded Stalter for appearing to stand up to intolerance. “A Cop At D.C. Pride Kissed His Boyfriend to Piss Off the Westboro Baptist Church,” “A Defiant Police Officer Kissed His Boyfriend in Front of a Westboro Baptist Church Protest,” and “A Brave Cop Turned the Westboro Baptist Church’s Hate Into an Inspiring Kodak Moment,” were some of the headlines.
ACPD Lt. Kip Malcolm, who was walking the parade route with Stalter, said the kiss, which took place near the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and R Street NW, wasn’t necessarily meant to provoke the protesters.
“A lot of people in the LGBT community thought it was defiance, but my thought it was more about affection and celebrating the moment,” he said. “The crowd cheered and they were excited to see that ability to display that affection. The fact that we’re in a day and age where a uniformed officer can walk in the parade hand and hand with his partner is a big step.”
Arlington County Police officials declined to say whether Stalter faced any reprimand or disciplinary action for the photo seen ’round the world, saying that it does not comment on personnel matters. But the department currently has no formal policy regarding public displays of affection.
“There hasn’t been any negative feedback for the department that I know of,” Malcolm said, of the photo. “Common sense would say be tactful and mindful, but I don’t think a kiss among two gay officers at a gay pride parade is too shocking. Just like a heterosexual couple out at dinner kissing is not something we’d frown upon.
Arlington Police Chief Doug Scott said he supports the department’s participation in the parade — it’s part of a larger LGBT outreach effort — but in the future he might seek to avoid photos of uniformed officers engaged in public displays of affection.
“Unequivocally, I have supported our participation… in the parade,” Scott told ARLnow.com. “I applaud the officers in our agency that want to participate in that way. The issue of the photo did raise some concerns…. do we need a policy of public displays of affection for officers in uniform?”
Scott said such photos “could affect the professional image of law enforcement” and there’s been “kind of an unwritten rule for some time” against PDA while in uniform. He said a review will be conducted to see if the department should codify that rule.
Regardless, Scott said he will continue to support the involvement of uniformed Arlington officers and police vehicles in the pride parade.
“I would just like to reemphasize the point that our agency is very progressive,” said Scott. “Our participation is one that I personally support, that the community supports and that our County Board supports.”
Dump Truck Driver Found Guilty in Woman’s Death — The driver of a dump truck that struck and killed a 39-year-old mother of three in February has been found guilty of “failing to pay full time and attention.” Marvin Valladares, 33, was sentenced to 10 days in jail with four suspended. [WTOP, WJLA]
Pentagon Centre Redevelopment Plans Change – A plan to redevelop the Pentagon Centre shopping center is being changed. Owner Kimco Realty Corp. now wants to build two residential buildings on the site before building two office buildings and a hotel. Pentagon Centre is currently home to Best Buy, Costco and other big box retailers. If the plan is approved, it and other Pentagon City development projects could result in “a deluge of roughly 4,000 new residential units in a decade.” [Washington Business Journal]
Lane Closures Planned for Parade — A number of lanes will be closed in the area of Four Mile Run on Saturday for the Corso de Santa Cruz Parade. [Arlington County]
Advice for Vihstadt — Dave Foster, a Republican elected to two full terms on the Arlington School Board starting in 1999, has some advice for the newly-elected County Board member John Vihstadt. In order for Vihstadt to win re-election and a full term in November, he will need to practice “thoughtful and independent decision-making, hard work and constant community outreach,” Foster said. [InsideNoVa]
‘Brave’ Moran Loses Two Votes — Retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D) is taking some bold but symbolic stances in his last term. Moran was one of “two brave Democrats” who voted for a doomed interpretation of President Obama’s budget, as floated by House Republicans for the express purpose of getting Democrats to vote against it. Moran also lost his bid to raise pay for members of Congress; the proposal died in committee. [Washington Times, Associated Press]
Road Closures for Parade — Parts of Walter Reed Drive, Four Mile Run and George Mason Drive will be closed Sunday morning and afternoon for the Carnival de Oruro Parade. [Arlington County]
Library Extends DVD Renewals – Arlington Public Library is now letting patrons renew DVDs twice, meaning the maximum rental period is now 21 days. [Arlington Public Library]
Del. Brink Finds 13 to Be Unlucky – Was it a coincidence? Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) was 13th in seniority in the Virginia House of Delegates this year. And as he was putting his “13″ specialty license plate on his car (such plates are issued to lawmakers annually by the state), his pliers slipped and gouged a deep cut in his finger. One fellow lawmaker, however, opined that the bad luck was actually because Brink had just, by virtue of timing, introduced House Bill 666. [InsideNoVa]
Several streets will be closed near Shirlington on Sunday for the Carnaval de Oruro parade.
The parade is scheduled to kick off at 10:30 a.m. on S. Four Mile Run, between George Mason Drive and Walter Reed Drive. Based on a 2,000+ year-old religious and cultural tradition in Bolivia, the parade will feature music and folk dancers.
Police are planning the following road closures on Sunday:
- Right lane of southbound Walter Reed Drive near S. Four Mile Run Drive will be closed from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Westbound lanes of S. Four Mile Run Drive will be closed from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Westbound traffic will be directed onto the Four Mile Run Drive access road.
- Right lane of northbound S. George Mason Drive near Four Mile Run Drive will be closed from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Temporary “no parking” signs will also be posted along the parade route.
The Clarendon Alliance, which organizes the annual parade, made the announcement via Twitter. “What are the odds?” the organization asked rhetorically.
No word yet on whether the parade will be rescheduled again.
The parade has been rescheduled for 8:00 p.m. on Monday, March 17. It will still run along Wilson Blvd from N. Barton Street to N. Irving Street in Clarendon.
“Approximately 90% of the original Mardi Gras entries are able to participate on the rescheduled date,” according to the Clarendon Alliance, the parade’s organizer. “The Mardi Gras Parade registration period is being extended, to allow additional entrants to participate in the parade. New registrations will be accepted by the CA through 5pm on Wednesday March 12.”
In 2010, when snow forced the cancellation of the Mardi Gras parade, it was transformed into a St. Patrick’s Day parade, complete with Irish dancers, a leprechaun and green beads. For now, the 2014 version is still being called a “Mardi Gras parade.”
Update on 3/3/14 — The parade has been postponed indefinitely due to snow.
The annual Clarendon-Courthouse Mardi Gras Parade will take place next Tuesday, March 4.
The free, family-friendly parade will start at 8:00 p.m. at N. Barton Street and will make its way up Wilson Blvd to N. Irving Street in Clarendon. The parade features decorated vehicles, marching bands, parade floats, groups with animals, historic fire trucks, school groups and more.
According to Matt Hussman, executive director of the Clarendon Alliance, the parade this year will be the biggest ever in terms of entries. Among the groups that are expected to march in the parade:
- Ballou High School Marching Knights
- Batala Washington Drummers group
- Cherrydale VFD
- US Park Police Horse Mounted Unit
- DC LSU Alumni Chapter
- Krewe of Xenia
- Kensington Street Builders
- “The Band” Marching Unit
- Washington Nationals
- Corozon de America
- Sangre Boliviana
- Morenada Transpeco USA
- Tinkus Tiatacao USA
Before the parade, at 5:00 p.m., New Orleans native chef David Guas, of Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road), will hold his annual Bayou Gras Block Party in front of the restaurant in Courthouse.
The event will feature Abita on draft, bourbon cocktails, oysters, king cake, jambalaya, and gumbo under a large party tent. Tickets range from $15-30.
Disclosure: Clarendon Alliance is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Arlington Boy Drowns in Shenandoah — A 3-year-old Arlington boy drowned in a Shenandoah County creek over the weekend. The boy had been seen playing with other children about 200 yards downstream from where his body was found by a search and rescue team. His death has been ruled accidental. [NV Daily]
Jail Hosts Mother’s and Father’s Day Visits — Earlier this month, the Arlington County Detention Facility held a special event for the children of female inmates, in honor of Mother’s Day. Next month, the jail will host a similar event for the children of men for Father’s Day. [Sun Gazette]
Road Closures for Parade Near Shirlington — The westbound lanes of S. Four Mile Run Drive will be closed between Shirlington Road and Walter Reed Drive on Saturday for the Corso de Santa Cruz Parade. The closure is expected to be in place from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. [Arlington County]
Grand Opening for Bluemont Fitness Facility — Though it has been open for several months, Bluemont-based Phoenix Fitness (5130 Wilson Blvd) will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday with free food, classes and giveaways. [Phoenix Fitness]
Flickr pool photo by Alex
Crowds lined Wilson Blvd last night to celebrate Fat Tuesday while taking in the annual Clarendon Mardi Gras parade.
Bands played, the D.C. Rollergirls skated through and kids scrambled for beads with as much enthusiasm as the adults. Representatives from local businesses and organizations also entertained the masses while riding or walking alongside the many colorful floats.
Photos by Jason Dixson Photography
The parade — the largest in the D.C. area — will run up Wilson Boulevard from N. Barton Street to Washington Boulevard. Several significant road closures will be in effect as a result. Parade-goers are being encouraged to walk or take Metro.
If you’re looking for something to do before or after the parade (other than watching the State of the Union address) here are a few local Fat Tuesday-themed happenings that might be of interest.
- Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road) is hosting a “block party” outside the store starting at 5:00 p.m.
- Whitlow’s (2854 Wilson Blvd) is offering hurricanes, drink specials and a special menu
- Wilson Tavern (2403 Wilson Blvd) is hosting a Mardi Gras party with specials and free beads
- Iota Club and Cafe (2832 Wilson Blvd) is hosting a free concert by The Grandsons starting at 8:30 p.m. The event includes free “gumbo shots.”
- RiRa Irish Pub (2915 Wilson Blvd) is hosting a live band starting at 7:00 p.m., plus offering $3 drink specials until 9:00 and “beads all over the place”
- Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd) is hosting a Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Party “all day long.” DJ Chris Styles will perform, specials will be available and free masquerade masks and beads will be provided.
- Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (3022 Woodlawn Ave, Falls Church) is hosting a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Floats are getting prepped and beads are being gathered for Clarendon’s annual Mardi Gras parade next Tuesday, February 12.
Thousands of residents are expected to line Wilson Blvd from N. Barton Street to Washington Blvd, where the parade will travel starting at 8:00 p.m. Around 50 businesses, restaurants and organizations are slated to march in the parade.
Because of road closures and lack of parking, parade attendees are encouraged to use Metro. The Courthouse and Clarendon stations are located near the parade route.
Street parking in the area will be restricted. Motorists should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call 703-558-2222.
The following restrictions will be in effect:
- Wilson Boulevard will be closed from Veitch Street to Barton Street 6:45-9:30 p.m.
- Adams Street and Wayne Street will be closed between Clarendon Boulevard and Wilson Boulevard from 6:45-9:30 p.m.
- Wilson Boulevard will be closed from Barton Street to Irving Street from 7:45-9:30 p.m.
- Courthouse Road at N. 15th Street — Bayou Bakery will be hosting a block party from 5:00-8:00 p.m., with setup beginning at 3:00 p.m. and cleanup ending at 10:00 p.m.
The parade — the largest in the D.C. area — will kick of at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, and run up Wilson Boulevard from N. Barton Street to Washington Boulevard. The parade will be preceded by a pre-party at Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Road) at 5:00 p.m.
“Participating in the parade is a great way to have fun — participants can wear masks, dress completely inappropriately, and throw stuff at people,” parade organizer Clarendon Alliance said on its website. “What’s not to like?”
Fifty organizations participated in the 2012 Mardi Gras parade and the Clarendon Alliance is hoping to attract even more participants this year.
I-66 HOV Restrictions Lifted — To ease congestion on arterial routes, which might be affected by traffic signal outages from Friday’s storm, VDOT lifted the HOV requirement for I-66 inside the Beltway during the morning rush hour.
Federal Gov’t Under Unscheduled Leave Policy — With nearly a quarter of all electricity customers in the D.C. area without power, the federal government is operating under a Unscheduled Leave/Unscheduled Telework Policy for today, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
Tejada Still Thinking About Streetcar — Walter Tejada says he still hasn’t decided whether he supports the planned Columbia Pike streetcar line. Tejada says he’s concerned about the streetcar’s impact on affordable housing. “Transit-oriented development has been cruel” to low income people in Arlington, Tejada is quoted as saying. [Arlington Mercury]
Bolivian Parade Held — Despite the sweltering heat and continuing storm cleanup, Saturday’s AGROBOL Bolivian heritage parade was held as scheduled on Four Mile Run Drive. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Bishop O’Connell Grad Selected in NBA Draft — Bishop O’Connell High School standout Kendall Marshall has been drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the NBA Draft. Marshall, a point guard, is being touted as a possible replacement to Steve Nash. [Washington Post, Bleacher Report]
Citizens Ask for Farmhouse Restoration – A group of residents is urging the Arlington County Board to spend some $1 million to restore the county-owned Reevesland farmhouse and convert it into a nature and sustainability learning center. At the moment, the county is attempting to find a commercial tenant to foot the bill for the pricey restoration. [Sun Gazette]
Closures for Parade This Weekend — Parts of Shirlington Road, Four Mile Run Drive and S. Walter Reed Drive will be closed Saturday afternoon to make way for the “Agrobol Parade.” [Arlington County Police Department]
Library Honored for Environmental Innovation — Arlington Public Library has been named the Urban Libraries Council’s 2012 “Top Innovator for Sustainability.” [Library Blog]
AIM Awarded for ‘Overall Excellence’ — Arlington Independent Media has received an award for “Overall Excellence in Public Access” in the 2012 Hometown Media Competition. AIM won in the category for public access stations with budgets over $650,000. It’s the eighth time AIM has won the award since 1990. “Overall Excellence” award recipients in other categories included two local operations: Fairfax County Government Channel 16 and Montgomery Community Media. [Alliance for Community Media]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
Clarendon’s annual Mardi Gras parade marched up Wilson Boulevard last night, to the delight of hundreds of paradegoers.
Among the those marching in this year’s parade were the Ballou High School Band, Washington Nationals mascot Screech, the D.C. Rollergirls, and the all-women, Afro-Brazilian/samba-reggae percussion band Batala Washington. Local businesses, churches, nonprofits and political parties also took part.
Photos by Erin Schwartz Sutherland