The lawsuit against 64 people who spoke in opposition to Nova Armory, the Lyon Park gun store, helped provide the impetus for a state bill to protect protesters from similar court action.
House Bill 1941, introduced by southwest Virginia Del. Terry Kilgore (R-1) and co-patroned by local Del. Mark Levine (D-45), provides immunity from a lawsuit to anyone who speaks out on a matter of public concern, unless they knowingly make false statements. Defendants in so-called “strategic lawsuits against public participation” could be awarded reasonable attorney fees and costs under the bill.
It passed unanimously in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate, and awaits the signature of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
Levine said the desire to protest goes beyond party politics, and the new bill protects the First Amendment rights of those across the political spectrum.
“This is not a partisan issue,” he wrote in a message to supporters. “Liberals will want to protest gun stores, just like conservatives will want to protest affordable health care. But people should have a right to state their opinions and protest without fearing a lawsuit.”
Levine had initially proposed a bill of his own related to the subject, House Bill 2446, with sanctions against plaintiffs who “bring an action to deter someone from exercising his constitutional rights.” That bill was tabled in the House Committee for Courts and Justice. Levine then signed onto HB1941 as chief co-patron.
Nova Armory sued opponents who spoke out against its opening, including Arlington County’s seven state representatives, who signed a letter to landlord Katya Varley on General Assembly letterhead expressing their objections.
Nova Armory alleged in its lawsuit that the owner and landlord were harassed, and that death threats were mailed to Lauren Pratte, the store’s 16-year-old “owner-in-training.”
In a press release last March threatening such action, Pratte said ownership were concerned about the infringement on their civil rights by their state representatives.
“We’ve given up on fact-checking all their false statements,” Pratte said at the time. “Instead we’ve told our lawyers to concentrate on any actions in which we are deprived of our civil liberties by these so-called public servants — they’ll regret any abuse of their authority.”
But one day before the lawsuit was due to be heard in Arlington County Circuit Court, the Washington Post reported the store filed a notice to drop the suit.
“I am delighted — though not surprised — to learn that Nova Armory nonsuited its lawsuit today,” Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48), another defendant, said in a statement to the Post. “From the very beginning it was clear that this lawsuit had no basis in law or fact.”
At the monthly meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee earlier this month, Levine said the bill has a broader mission beyond this one lawsuit. Instead, he said, it protects anyone who wishes to exercise their First Amendment rights.
“If you want to go out and protest, you are free to go out and protest,” he said. “They can’t sue you.”
CivFed Preps for Controversial Vote — “The Arlington County Civic Federation plans to set aside its entire February meeting to discuss, debate and (perhaps) vote upon a resolution that drew…
Arlington is now included in a Dense Fog Advisory that was earlier issued for other parts of Virginia and Maryland. The fog is expected to clear up overnight, but for…
Good Wednesday evening, Arlington. Today we published 5 articles that were read a total of 9367 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today…
In Green Valley, resident Portia Clark says she and her neighbors are bombarded with calls and letters from realtors and potential investors about buying their homes. “We were once a…
With holiday season around the corner, it is easy to put your health on the back burner. If you are looking to get back on track during the holiday season, we are here to keep you accountable. At Aspire Higher Training, we offer 1-1 Personal Training for ALL fitness levels, Semi-Private Group Training, Sport Specific Training and Injury Prevention/Post Physical Therapy Training. Monica and her team of trainers are available across Arlington, Va.
If you don’t have access to a gym, no problem, we are located in South Arlington, but if you want to workout from your home/apartment gym, we also offer that flexibility. We make it as convenient as possible. Before getting started, we offer a free 15-30 minute consultation call to see how we can best help you towards your health and fitness goals. Let’s gets started on your health and fitness goals today by setting up a call at your earliest convenience: https://www.aspirehigherfitness.com/contact
Hello Everyone — You are invited to the final meeting of NAACP Arlington Branch NAACP for 2022
When: Dec 12, 2022, 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: 2022 General Membership Meeting — NAACP Arlington Branch
Register in advance for this webinar
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
7:00 pm Meeting Opens.
7:30 pm Installation
8:00 pm Presentation/Q&A; by Dave Schutz on Ranked Choice Voting
8:30 pm Final Remarks and Comments by Newly Elected Members
9:00 pm Meeting Adjourns
Installation Official Robert N. Barnette, Jr. President, Virginia State Conference NAACP The President of the Virginia State Conference NAACP will serve as the Installation Official and provide remarks for our newly elected officers at the general membership.
Join us as we celebrate the holiday of Chanukah! Enjoy delicious Latkes, hot cocoa, donuts and more!
Clarendon Menorah Lighting and Community Celebration
Experience the festival of lights!!
*Lighting of a giant 9 foot Menorah