Arlington, VA

(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) Someone defaced a sign promoting racial justice, placed by a church near Clarendon.

The vandalism happened overnight in front of the Clarendon United Methodist Church (606 N. Irving Street).

A photo sent to ARLnow (above) shows the words “It’s OK to be white” scrawled in block letters on the second of a pair of banners. The banners are signed by parishioners and declare: “Clarendon United Methodist Church is committed to fighting against systemic racial injustice. I will be part of the solution.”

The church tells ARLnow that it was able to successfully remove the graffiti this morning.

“We lament that anyone would choose to deface our sign but we are glad that they have given us further opportunity to affirm our stand against systemic racial injustice and our commitment to be a part of the solution,” a church employee said via email. “We restored the sign to its original intended message this morning.”

The church’s pastor, Rev. Tracy McNeil Wines, also released the following statement.

The murders of George Floyd and countless other Black men, women, and children have further brought to light a long history that bears the unmistakable stains of exclusion, oppression, and violence. We are called by conscience and by God to rise up and stand with those whose pain is etched onto the heart of our nation. We recognize the significant disparities in opportunity for all people of color in education, housing, health, and employment, and in restricted access to security and justice. As people of faith in Jesus Christ, it is essential that we act to dismantle racism.

At Clarendon United Methodist Church, we are committed to the fight against systemic racial injustice. We acknowledge that racism is a sin that works in direct opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we join in the call to resist its powerful influence. Together we yearn for a world that reflects God’s will for just treatment and full inclusion of all persons. We resolve to resist evil, injustice and oppression, and so we cannot rest until the work of dismantling racism is done. Courage and conviction are required in the fight, and we pray that God’s Spirit may empower us with grace equal to the task.

We must take both communal and individual responsibility for justice. Change ultimately begins with transformed hearts. Therefore, we commit to opening our hearts to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. Deep repentance is required. We will seek to educate ourselves and others — to discern the breadth of racism’s impact, to see and acknowledge its effects, and to uncover its influence in our own lives and in our shared life together. We will follow equal employment practices, and intentionally increase opportunities for the voices of Black people and all people of color to be heard in the life and leadership of our church. We will work to tear down the entrenched racial and economic divide that is present in Arlington County and beyond, dedicating resources to aim at both the effects and the root causes of injustice. We affirm that this effort must be an ongoing commitment.

None of us can move forward if one of us is left behind.

This is the second such vandalism of a racial justice sign on church property in as many weeks in Arlington. The “Black” in “Black Lives Matter” was cut out of a sign in front of Rock Spring Congregational church last week. In D.C., meanwhile, a mural “lifting up the names and legacies of Dorothy Day and MLK Jr.” in front of a church was found ripped down this morning.

Photo (top) courtesy anonymous, (bottom) courtesy Clarendon United Methodist Church

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Update on 5/12/20 — In an update, Arlington County Police say a man has been charged in connection to this incident, which is still considered a “suspicious death.” From ACPD:

This incident remains classified as a suspicious death. Detectives continue to investigate the events that preceded the death and are working with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine cause.

Pursuant to our investigation, the condition of the body indicates the death occurred days prior to police being summoned to the residence. Roscoe James Shaw, 51, of Arlington, VA, has been arrested and charged with Virginia Code § 18.2-323.02 Concealment of Dead Body. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Original article: Arlington County Police are investigating a “suspicious death” in the Ashton Heights neighborhood, south of Ballston.

The death was discovered following a police dispatch around 4:45 p.m. Friday.

Officers responded to the 200 block of N. Piedmont Street, which is primarily a collection of garden apartment buildings, “for the report of suspicious circumstances,” ACPD said in a press release.

The SWAT team was later called in to make entry into a residence. A tipster described a large police presence in the area.

“Any info on whatever is happening around N. Piedmont Street and Glebe,” the tipster asked around 9:15 p.m. “Fifteen plus cops, road shut down, full tactical gear.”

Upon entering the residence, police say they found a man dead inside.

The death is considered “suspicious” and is being investigated by homicide detectives and the medical examiner. If determined to be homicide, it would be the third homicide in the county so far this year. The last reported homicide happened on April 23.

More from the police press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a suspicious death in the Ashton Heights neighborhood.

At approximately 4:44 p.m. on May 8, police were dispatched to the 200 block of N. Piedmont Street for the report of suspicious circumstances. During the course of the investigation, information was developed about a possible deceased individual inside a residence. Officers established a perimeter, secured a search warrant and entry into the residence was made by members of the SWAT team. Once inside, an adult male was located deceased.

Cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The identity of the decedent is being withheld pending proper identification and notification of next of kin.

This remains an active and ongoing criminal investigation. Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact Detective S. King of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4243 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at ‪1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Map via Google Maps

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Around 500 homes and businesses are without water service tonight due to a water main break in Ashton Heights.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says emergency repairs are underway at the intersection of N. Monroe Street and 7th Street N., about 3-4 blocks from the Virginia Square Metro station.

The repairs are not expected to be complete until daybreak.

Map via Google Maps

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(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) One person has died after a fire in Ashton Heights, near Ballston, Tuesday morning.

First responders were dispatched to a garden-style apartment on the 3800 block of 5th Street N at 7:44 a.m. today where they found an unconscious man in the living room, the Arlington County Fire Department said in a statement at 1:30 p.m. today.

“There was no fire evident when firefighters arrived, but the reporting party told firefighters it smelled like something was burning in the building,” said the department. “Firefighters on the back of the building identified the source of the smell as a first-floor apartment. They forced entry and found a small fire on the stove at the rear of the apartment that was quickly extinguished.”

The department said firefighters located the apartment’s smoke detector — but the early warning device lacked a battery.

By the time they found the man, the apartment had filled with smoke, department spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant told ARLnow at 11:15 a.m.

The man was rushed to a local hospital as medics performed CPR, according to O’Bryant. He was later pronounced dead.

Authorities are not yet releasing the man’s name, as they work to notify next of kin. He was only identified as an adult male.

As is standard for a fatal fire, the fire marshal’s office and Arlington County Police are jointly investigating the cause of the fire and the man’s death.

See the full department press release below:

At 7:44 a.m. on Tue., June 11, firefighters from the Arlington County Fire Department and Ft. Myer Fire Department, and officers from the Arlington County Police Department, were dispatched for a possible structure fire at a two-story apartment building in the 3800 block of Fifth Street North.

There was no fire evident when firefighters arrived, but the reporting party told firefighters it smelled like something was burning in the building. Firefighters on the back of the building identified the source of the smell as a first-floor apartment. They forced entry and found a small fire on the stove at the rear of the apartment that was quickly extinguished.

Upon searching the residence, firefighters located an unconscious adult male in the living room. The occupant was immediately removed from the apartment and resuscitative efforts initiated by Fire/EMS personnel. Responders continued to treat the patient en route to the hospital where the patient was later pronounced deceased.

The fire was contained to the room of origin and did not affect any other residences in the building. There was a smoke detector installed in the apartment, but it did not contain a battery.

Investigators from ACFD Fire Prevention Office and ACPD responded and are working collaboratively to investigate the fire. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The identity of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. No further information is available at this time.

Photo via ACFD/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Christmas Closures in Arlington — “Arlington County Government offices, courts and libraries will be closed on Mon., Dec. 24 and Tue., Dec. 25, 2018, for Christmas and on Tue., Jan. 1, 2019, for New Year’s Day. Courts will also be closed on Dec. 31, 2018, and libraries will close at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31.” [Arlington County]

Low-Income Workers Finding Metro Alternatives — “As Metro fares have risen, hours for train service have been cut and gentrification has made it more difficult for low-income workers to live near rail stations, workers making lower wages in Washington and in Arlington have become less likely to commute by transit… down 5 percent from the previous five years.” [Washington Post]

Arlington, Alexandria Firefighters Learning Yoga — “It’s a revolutionary training course helping firefighters cope [with] stress & sleep deprivation. One firefighter who was at the Pentagon on 9/11 says it helps him deal [with] the memory of that day.” [NBC Washington, Twitter]

Rain, Flood Watch Continues — “The Flood Watch continues through this afternoon. Unseasonably warm today with showers and perhaps an isolated afternoon/evening thunderstorm.” [Twitter]

Holiday Wrapping Paper Alternatives — Local designer Beth Singer, whose firm designed the ARLnow logo, has penned a new blog post just in time for the holidays: “Five Reasons I Will Never Buy Wrapping Paper Again.” [Beth Singer Design]

Eclectic Estate Sale Near Clarendon — “Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift for that special person? Are you a collector of unusual paintings, furniture, or sculpture? A curious browser of all things uncommon and quirky? You won’t want to miss this special estate sale, this weekend in Ashton Heights.” [Team Cathell]

Nearby: Amazon’s Effect on Chirilagua — “Between Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood and the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington is a swath of land home to a vibrant Hispanic community… For many Chirilagua residents, Amazon’s arrival threatens the end of the community they love, bringing increased housing costs, new residents and creeping gentrification.” [NBC Washington]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Arlington firefighters extinguished an attic fire in Ashton Heights last night (Wednesday).

First responders were called to the scene of a blaze at 300 N. Oakland Street around 7 p.m. yesterday. They were able to extinguish it soon afterward.

Firefighters say no one was injured as a result of the blaze.

The house fire was one of two that first responders had to extinguish last night.

Photo via @ArlingtonVaFD

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Arlington County Police are asking for the public’s help in tracking down a suspect in an attempted abduction on Sunday.

Police say a man tried to pull a woman into his vehicle on the 600 block of N. Oxford Street, near Ballston, on Sunday afternoon. The woman was able to break free and run away. Police were called and searched for the suspect, but were unable to find him.

ACPD is now hoping a description of the suspect and his vehicle, below, can turn up some leads.

At approximately 2:32 p.m. on April 1, police were dispatched to the report of an assault that just occurred in the 600 block of N. Oxford Street. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was walking in the area when she passed an unknown male suspect. The male suspect called out to the victim and when she didn’t respond, he grabbed her from behind and attempted to pull her towards his vehicle. The victim was able to break free from the suspect and run away, however, the suspect continued to watch the victim from his vehicle until she entered her residence. The victim did not require medical treatment. The suspect fled the area prior to police arrival. Arriving officers canvased the area and a lookout was broadcast with negative results.

The suspect is described as a black male, with short dreads, possibly braids, with some orange, approximately 6’0, wearing a black shirt, light gray zip up hoodie and dark gray sweatpants. The suspect’s vehicle is described as an older, possibly late 1990’s or early 2000’s, model pick-up truck that was dark blue or black in color and looked “beat-up.”

Police have increased patrols in the area. Anyone with information on the identity of this suspect or details surrounding this incident is asked to contact Detective G. Sloan of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 703.228.4198 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

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Morning Notes

ACFD Responds to Overturned Truck — Rescue crews responded to the intersection of George Mason Drive and 27th Street N., in the Yorktown neighborhood, just before 6:30 last night for a crash involving an overturned vehicle. At least two vehicles, including a minivan, and a pickup truck that overturned, were involved. [Twitter]

Apartment Fire in Ashton Heights — Firefighters quickly extinguished a small fire in the storage room of an apartment building in Ashton Heights yesterday afternoon. The fire happened on the 500 block of N. Piedmont Street and was “kept small by sprinklers.” [Twitter]

I-66 Tolls Not as Bad as You Might Think — According to VDOT, tolls on the first day of HOT lanes on I-66 were, on average, not too bad: “The average round-trip toll price was $14.50, with the average morning toll paid of $10.70 and average afternoon toll paid of $3.80. This average toll rate is lower than the estimated average toll rate of $17.00 round-trip discussed in 2015.” Also, Friday morning’s tolls were lower than those of previous days. [VDOT, Washington Post]

Kaspersky Closes Arlington Office — Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs has closed its government sales office in Arlington as a result of the government banning use of Kaspersky antivirus software on federal computers. The company “came under tough US scrutiny after US officials became concerned about the company’s links to the Russian government.” [Buzzfeed]

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) More than 2,000 Dominion customers are without power in the Ballston area this Election Day afternoon.

The outage was first reported just before 3:45 p.m. Some 2,063 Dominion customers in Ballston, Virginia Square and Ashton Heights are without electricity.

Police are also reporting traffic signals to be dark at the busy intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Quincy Street, causing some traffic tie-ups. In a tweet, the police department advised drivers to treat all non-operating traffic signals as a four-way stop.

No word yet on what caused the outage. Dominion is listing a preliminary restoration estimate of 8-11 p.m.

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVaPD/status/928001587443847168

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Halloween is tomorrow (Tuesday), and as in previous years, some Arlington County residents have gone all-out decorating their houses.

On just a small stretch of N. Jackson Street in the Ashton Heights neighborhood, some houses were covered in skeletons, gravestones, ghosts and other scary things.

Arlington does not designate a time for trick-or-treating, but tradition indicates parents will bring their costumed kids through the neighborhoods around sunset on Halloween — which is expected around 6 p.m. — and knock on doors until 8 or 9 p.m.

Temperatures should be on the cool side that day, with highs likely to reach only around 60 degrees.

Here are some tips for planning your trick-or-treat trip:

  • Children should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Choose a neighborhood or street you’re familiar with or is known for getting in the spirit.
  • Houses with the outside lights are the ones expecting and ready for trick-or-treaters.
  • Expect the older, non-costumed crowds later in the evening.
  • If you’re passing out treats, turn the outside lights off when you run out.

Ambassadors for Arlington PAL (Predictable, Alert, Lawful) will be out and about on of N. Jackson Street on Tuesday night for an outreach event. They will be handing out bike lights, reflective vests and other goodies to help encourage everyone to be safe.

A number of Halloween-themed events are taking place over the next few days, including the Seventh Annual Spooky Paws Dog Walk and Fall-O-Ween, both at Market Common in Clarendon.

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One person is in critical condition after a house fire in Ashton Heights early this morning.

The fire broke out around 1 a.m. on the 500 block of N. Ivy Street. By the time firefighters arrived, the front of the house was already fully engulfed in flames.

Two men who lived in the house made it out safely. A third man was “quickly located and rescued” and transported “to a burn center in critical condition,” according to the Arlington County Fire Department.

No firefighters were injured. The cause of the blaze is now under investigation.

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