A man arrested for what was initially described as the “discharge of a firearm” in Rosslyn early New Year’s morning was heavily armed and determined to confront Black Lives Matters supporters, according to new reporting.
A search warrant affidavit obtained by The Auburn Citizen, a newspaper near suspect Moses Geri’s home in central New York state, suggests that he became enraged after fellow guests in his hotel shouted “Black lives matter” at him.
The initial report of the shooting only said that Geri was drunk and firing gunshots in the air, in what one might have interpreted as misplaced New Year’s revelry.
From an Arlington County police press release on Jan. 1:
At approximately 1:48 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of a person with a gun in the 1500 block of Clarendon Boulevard. While en route to the location, a lookout for the suspect was broadcast and officers observed the suspect on the sidewalk holding a firearm as they arrived on scene. The suspect was compliant and taken into custody without incident.
The investigation determined that the victim was in their hotel room when they heard gunshots outside. Upon looking outside, they observed the suspect outside pointing a firearm upwards towards their window. The suspect then entered their vehicle, retrieved a second firearm, and was observed by the victim pointing it upwards again. Nobody was injured and no damage to property was reported.
Moses Geri, 38, of Weedsport, New York, was arrested and charged with Discharge of a Firearm in a Public Place (x2), Discharge of a Firearm In/Across a Road (x2), Brandishing a Firearm (x2), Reckless Handling of a Firearm, and Drunk in Public. He is being held without bond.
The Citizen reports that Geri, seen smiling in his mugshot, may have had more sinister motives: to confront those who support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Geri told police he fired the shots, according the report, after arguing with several people on a hotel balcony.
According to the affidavit, Geri had drunk a quarter of a bottle of moonshine when, around 2 a.m. Jan. 1, he was seen walking around the Rosslyn hotel with a chrome-plated .44 magnum pistol holstered at his hip. When asked why he was carrying the gun — by individuals the affidavit identifies as “minorities” — Geri gestured at them and said it was to protect himself from them.
Geri then left the hotel, retrieved a rifle from his pickup truck and got into an argument with the same individuals, the affidavit continues. The individuals, who were on their balcony, claimed Geri pointed the gun at them. He then fired at least two rounds into the air, which he later admitted to Arlington County police. When they responded to the scene, they found him in possession of five spent shell casings matching the caliber of the rifle. He was also found in possession of three firearms and several edged weapons, and the search of his truck three days later would reveal more than 800 rounds of ammunition, including 5.56 mm armor piercing, soft point and white phosphorus tracer rounds. Geri possessed a shovel, canteen and tactical clothing as well.
Additional reporting suggests that Geri was in the D.C. area to take part in the pro-Trump protests that would turn into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. According to The Citizen, Geri told police that he had a snow plow attached to the front of his truck because “You don’t know what you are gonna come across down here… These Black Lives Matter activists are shooting other people and I don’t want to take it anymore.”
According to court records, Geri is pleading guilty to a felony charge of firing a gun within 1,000 feet of a school and is scheduled to be sentenced in Arlington County Circuit Court on April 23.
A police department spokeswoman referred questions about the affidavit to Arlington General District Court, though courts are closed today due to the weather. ARLnow is awaiting further comment from the Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Arlington County police officers will start wearing body cameras on Wednesday, the police department announced today.
The relatively swift implementation of the new body-worn cameras follows a community discussion of police practices in Arlington, which itself followed the civil unrest caused by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis this past May.
“Effective Wednesday, December 16, 2020, Arlington County Police Officers assigned to the Operations Division will begin wearing body worn cameras and recording all dispatched calls for service, enforcement contacts and investigative contacts,” ACPD said today. “The deployment of cameras includes officers assigned to Patrol, Special Operations, Community Outreach, K-9 and the Emergency Response Team (commonly referred to as SWAT).”
The department already has cameras in police cruisers and interview rooms.
The Arlington branch of the NAACP launched a petition in June calling for ACPD to implement body-worn cameras. The online petition now has more than 12,000 signers.
“The Arlington County Police Department welcomes the use of body worn camera technology as an additional tool in our commitment to providing professional law enforcement services to the Arlington community,” Acting Police Chief Andy Penn in a press release. “We recognize our community’s trust is earned each day with every interaction. I am confident these cameras will build upon our longstanding history of community policing by highlighting the professionalism of the agency while instilling greater public confidence as we continue to hold ourselves accountable to the highest professional standards.”
More from the press release:
In June, County Manager Mark Schwartz announced funding for a Body Worn Camera program for the Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, and Fire Marshal’s Office as part of his proposed FY 2021 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). In July, the County Board approved the CIP and funding for the program. Specifically, the CIP provided $268,000 for body worn camera hardware; $244,000 for upgrades to four County courtrooms to support the technology; $536,000 for data storage, software, and maintenance; and $755,000 for replacing existing in-car camera systems to one compatible with body worn cameras.
In November, the Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and Fire Marshals’ Office sought the public’s input and feedback on draft Digital Evidence Management System policies, regulating digital audio and video recordings captured by body worn cameras, in-car cameras, and interview room cameras. The goal of this engagement was to create model policies utilizing established best practices and to continue to strengthen community relations and professional standards within the departments by enhancing transparency, accountability and training. All comments were reviewed and evaluated for incorporation into the policies.
In New York City, body-worn cameras were recently found to have increased officer reporting of police stops, helping to improve accountability.
Despite the new body cameras, Arlington County has a policy of turning off public feeds of traffic cameras during police and fire department incidents.
Photo courtesy ACPD
Not once, not twice, but four times, vandals have targeted a Black Lives Matter sign in front of the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington near Ballston.
Church officials were first alerted of the vandalism on Saturday morning, and presume that the destruction occurred overnight.
“It’s been a rocky history at this point,” said Scott LaGanga, an elder at the church, which is located at 601 N. Vermont Street in the Bluemont neighborhood.
First Presbyterian is at least the fourth church in Arlington reported to have a racial-justice sign vandalized this year.
The church has gone through four signs since one first went up on Oct. 4, LaGanga said. The sign read “Black Lives Matter” on a striped background imitating the Philadelphia Pride flag, which includes the colors for Gay Pride and Trans-rights flags as well as black and brown stripes to symbolize people of color.
“They’re clearly doing it in the dark because they have a certain viewpoint and don’t want to share that they have it,” LaGanga said.
After the first sign was stolen, the church invested in steel cables to secure it. Instead, vandals covered it in graffiti. Once, they crossed out the “V” in “Black Lives Matter” to read “Black Lies Matter,” LaGanga said.
This time, someone cut the sign out of the cables and took it.
LaGanga explained that the church has been more engaged in issues of racial justice, putting up signs and hosting a weekly outdoor vigil for an end to racial injustice. Acts of vandalism will not shaken the resolve of the church, he said.
“The church has taken a strong position on inclusion and racial justice,” said LaGanga. “It reaffirms the stance we are taking and the reason we’re going to replace the sign.”
This time, LaGanga said the church is considering security cameras, which he hopes will catch whoever is targeting the sign.
“We’re so resolved that if someone wants to do it, they’ll do it on camera,” he said.
First Presbyterian has received strong support from people in the community, many of whom are neighbors but not members, LaGanga said.
“We were surprised in the uptick in support from others in the community who were upset by this,” he said.
The first time, the church submitted a police report, but LaGanga does not see much point in submitting more since there have been no leads to date on the vandal.
In the wake of the protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd this summer, a rash of church signs were vandalized. Black Lives Matter sign were vandalized at Rock Spring Congregational church and at St. George’s Episcopal Church as well as a racial justice sign was vandalized outside of Clarendon United Methodist Church.
Acts of vandalism against BLM signage also occurred in secular spaces this summer, including S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395.
Photos courtesy Mark Blacknell
An Arlington-based organization wants people to join them for a peaceful protest on wheels.
Arlington for Justice, is asking community members to “Ride for Black Lives” on Saturday, Sept. 26, as they pedal about 14 miles in the name of justice.
The ride will begin at 3 p.m., starting at Drew Elementary School (3500 23rd St. S.) and is expected to end around 5 p.m. in front of the county courthouse (1425 N. Courthouse Road).
The route will take riders by sites in Arlington that are of Black historical significance, organization member Yolande Kwinana said.
Arlington for Justice wants the ride to:
- Call attention to racial injustice and the need for criminal justice reform in Arlington.
- Celebrate Black resilience and history in Arlington.
- Advocate for the elimination of School Resource Officers.
- Advocate for the community’s involvement in selecting a new police chief who is committed to justice system transformation.
- Advocate for ending police intervention in mental health crises.
Kwinana said there will be a rally at the end of the ride, upon arrival at the Courthouse.
“We ride together with our partners, MOMS Demand Action, Black Parents of Arlington, VA Coalition for Transforming the police, WofA, APS Reform and many more. There will be multiple speakers at the rally including elected delegates who have recently submitted bills,” Kwinana said.
County police will escort the cyclists and close some streets along the route, according to Kwinana.
There will also be a shorter ride for those with kids.
“We will have a FAMILY RIDE at the tail end of the protest,” says the event’s Facebook page. “Families can meet at 4:00 PM at the parking deck at Washington-Liberty High School… The family ride will process out towards Courthouse around 4:15-4:30 PM, joining the main ride. The ride will be about 2 miles with gentle hills. MASKS ARE REQUIRED.”
All participants are asked to bring face masks, portable bike-repair tools, and water. Water will also be handed out, and there will be first-aid volunteers along the way.
Photo via Asya Vee/Unsplash
Parent Group Calls Out APS — From the Black Parents of Arlington: “In addition to tracking incidents of racism, APS needs to implement mandatory anti-racism and implicit bias training for all teachers and staff throughout the system on a regular basis. Moreover, APS must begin to track incidents of racial and ethnic hostility and make these findings public. The time is now. We will no longer wait. Arlington’s Black children deserve better.” [Facebook]
Pizzeria to Open Next Month in Clarendon — “A storied Connecticut pizza shop is making one of its biggest moves, opening a new location in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood next month. Colony Grill is gearing up to debut Oct. 13 with a 5,200-square-foot space, taking over at 2800 Clarendon Blvd. for the Gallery Clarendon art installation pop-up that shuttered in February. The restaurant offers seating for 170 guests in three different areas.” [Washington Business Journal]
New Potomac Bridge Moving Forward — “With the state budget in tatters and commuter levels at record lows, now might hardly seem the right moment for Virginia to embark upon a $1.9 billion rail project. However, the recent conclusion of the Long Bridge’s environmental impact study has cleared the way for the commonwealth to do just that.” [Virginia Mercury]
Eagle Scout Project at Fire Station 5 — “A special project is taking shape to honor the victims of September 11th.
A piece of steel from the World Trade Center was brought to the Arlington County Fire Department nearly ten years ago. Now, a local high school senior and aspiring Eagle Scout wants to transform the area into a place where people can gather.” [WUSA 9]
Arlington Man Jailed in Belarus — “A U.S. diplomat warns that her Belarusian American husband’s health is in ‘immediate danger’ following his late-July arrest by security forces of the authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Vitali Shkliarov, a political analyst and dual citizen who worked on the presidential campaigns of both Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders, was detained while visiting his parents in his hometown of Gomel, Belarus, in the runup to the country’s Aug. 9 presidential elections.” [NPR]
County Reaffirms Fair Housing Commitment — “Arlington will continue to follow the federal government’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, despite the federal government’s July 2020 action to rescind that rule within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the County Board said in a resolution approved at its September 15 Recessed Meeting.” [Arlington County]
Local Historian Dies — “It is our sad duty to announce the passing of beloved historian Ed Bearss, one of the legends of the battlefield preservation movement and a long-time member of the American Battlefield Trust board.” [National Parks Traveler, Twitter]
County Announces ‘Health Equity’ Program — “Arlington County Government, Arlington Public Schools and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) are collaborating to increase access to COVID support services in communities disproportionately affected by the virus as part of the state’s Health Equity Pilot Program.” [Arlington County]
Group Calls for Removal of Police from APS — “Today, the Black Parents of Arlington, an advocacy group dedicated to improving the lives of Black children in Arlington by securing equitable treatment in the realms of education, criminal justice, and access to opportunities and resources, formally called for the removal of School Resource Officers from all APS schools and facilities.” The local NAACP made a similar call for the removal of SROs earlier this summer. [Press Release]
Police Share Back to School Tips — “The Police Department typically marks the start of the academic year by reinforcing transportation safety tips to ensure that our roadways are safely shared with students heading back to school. With the shift to distance learning, we’re sharing tips to help students stay safe at home and online.” [Arlington County]
Ballston Tech Firm Acquires NYC Company — “Since last fall, celebrity-backed HUNGRY Marketplace Inc. has been using its technology to connect top local chefs with New York businesses looking for the best in catered meals. Now the company is deepening its Manhattan presence with the purchase of Ripe, the local corporate catering service that sees healthy office dining as a way to build better communities and foster new ideas among coworkers.” [New York Business Journal]
Disaster Preparedness Tips — “National Preparedness Month (NPM) each September promotes family and community disaster planning now and throughout the year. As our nation continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no better time to get involved.” [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Josh Folb
Labor Day Closures — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020 for Labor Day.” Trash will be collected but parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]
Library Buildings Remain Closed — “Even as neighboring Fairfax County is approaching the two-month mark for its reopened library system, Arlington officials appear in no rush to bring their library system more than marginally back to life. That means that while Arlington patrons will continue to have the chance to check out books online and pick them up at a central repository, they remain barred from visiting branches or wandering the stacks.” [InsideNova]
Bluemont BLM Protest Continues — “Father, in his red scooter, and son first rolled down the bike path to this corner in Arlington, Va., just after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. They’ve been back most weekdays since, more than 60 times so far, as demonstrators in Louisville and Atlanta marched for justice for Black Americans killed at the hands of police and protests surged following the police shooting of Jacob Blake last month in Kenosha, Wis.” [Washington Post]
Deep Dive Into New Bridge — “The preferred alternative would add a new two-track rail bridge north of the Long Bridge while retaining the existing bridge without modifications. The plan would cost approximately $1.9 billion. The existing span would retain its CSX ownership, and the new span would be Virginia’s.” [Greater Greater Washington]
MU Extends President’s Contract — “Marymount University’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to extend the contract of President Irma Becerra by an additional five years to 2026. This action comes one year earlier than expected, as Board members felt strongly that due to Dr. Becerra’s significant accomplishments during her tenure, it was important to ensure her continued association with Marymount on a more accelerated timeline.” [Press Release]
Trump Boat Parade Planned — “A boat parade is planned in support of President Trump on Sunday on the Potomac River. According to a Facebook post from an entity known as “Liberty Rally,” boaters will gather just before 1 PM in the Wilson Bridge no-wake zone and then proceed up the Potomac.” [Washingtonian]
Kanye Booted from Ballot — “A Richmond Circuit Court Judge has ruled that rapper Kanye West will be removed from the ballot as a presidential candidate in Virginia. The decision came after an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case and Attorney General Mark Herring accused the West camp of acting fraudulently to get on the ballot.” [NBC 12]
Va. Booze Biz is Booming — “The Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority announced Wednesday retail sales of $1.2 billion in fiscal 2020 — a nearly $120 million increase from the previous year and the second year in a row the liquor monopoly surpassed $1 billion in sales.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
DCA Noise Study Launched — “In a partnership that stretches across the Potomac River, Arlington and Montgomery counties have launched a joint study to mitigate aircraft noise from nearby Reagan National Airport. A team of technical experts representing the suburban Virginia and Maryland counties will study flight procedures, consult residents and propose to the Federal Aviation Administration ways to reduce noise pollution.” [WTOP]
Amazon Doubling Down on Offices — Amazon “is expanding its physical offices in six U.S. cities and adding thousands of corporate jobs in those areas, an indication the tech giant is making long-term plans around office work even as other companies embrace lasting remote employment. Amazon is preparing to add 3,500 corporate jobs across hubs in New York, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Detroit and Dallas.” [Wall Street Journal]
State Senators Support Redistricting Amendment — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee may have come out against the state constitutional amendment on redistricting that will be on Virginia’s Nov. 3 ballot. But the three members of Arlington’s state Senate delegation say they support it nonetheless. The amendment to create a redistricting commission represents ‘a big step forward,’ said Sen. Adam Ebbin. [InsideNova]
WWII Marker Replaced by Gun Violence Garden — “In 1952, a marker was unveiled in Arlington by the Gold Star Mothers of America… In June, a handsome new garden was dedicated in that space. It was created by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia to honor Moms Demand Action, an organization dedicated to addressing gun violence.” [Washington Post]
Local BLM Protest Organizers Profiled — “In late May, as outrage over George Floyd’s killing in police custody roiled the nation, Anika and Yolande Kwinana decided they had to do something. Anika, 49, a program manager in the Kennedy Center’s education division, and Yolande, 28, a business development associate for Salesforce… decided to organize a smaller demonstration themselves, in Arlington.” [Arlington Magazine]
Local Beer Store Pivots to Delivery — “Les Shaver tells the story of The Brew Shop, a specialty wine and beer store in Arlington, Va., that has been exceptionally resilient despite the impact of Covid-19. In the article, How One Small Beer Shop Tapped Into Online Sales in Response to COVID-19, Shaver recounts how owners Julie Drews and Beth Helle have been able to stay ahead of the curve by quickly shifting their brick and mortar format to online and delivery services.” [Craft Brewing Business]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The latest sign defacement happened outside of St. George’s Episcopal Church, at 915 N. Oakland Street in Virginia Square. Someone spray painted over a sign with a Bible verse and the words “Black Lives Matter.”
Arlington County Police say it happened around lunchtime Monay.
“At approximately 1:07 p.m. on August 10, police were dispatched to the report of graffiti which had occurred approximately 20 minutes prior,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.
“Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect spray painted over the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ on a sign,” Savage continued. “The suspect is described as an Asian male, between 50-65 years of age. He was wearing a red hat, glasses, plaid shirt, blue jean shorts and used a power wheelchair. The investigation is ongoing.”
On a local Facebook group, the church’s music minister said the vandalism was caught on video.
“We have video of this happening and the police have it,” he said. “Most importantly, we have extra signs. Please pray that love will rule our hearts. God bless you all.”
Another post, from this morning, says that the sign was vandalized again — someone put a sticker with the words “hate crimes are funny” over the word “Black.”
Since the George Floyd protests started, a Black Lives Matter sign was vandalized at Rock Spring Congregational church and a racial justice sign was vandalized outside of Clarendon United Methodist Church.
Bold posters inscribed with “Black Lives Matter” prompted a raucous symphony of honks from passing traffic at a busy Arlington intersection.
The conductor directing the clamor at Wilson Blvd and George Mason Drive on a weekday evening last week was Bob Edgar, who is no stranger to advocacy.
Edgar and his son Leteane Monatsi, along with a handful of supporters, have been drawing attention for weeks — in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd — by waving flags and signs saying “Black Lives Matter,” “HONK” and “Together We Rise.” In light of the death of civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, the pair also added a sign saying, “Honor John Lewis.”
The father and son duo, both in motorized wheelchairs, are committed to spreading their message and have protested at the intersection since the death of Floyd on May 25 and plan to keep coming out to the intersection for many months to come. They’ve been at it despite sweltering temperatures and the ongoing pandemic.
“We thought the best way to express our feelings was by coming to this street corner,” said Edgar. “Our whole intent in doing this is really to keep the issue of Black Lives Matter in front of people in this area.”
When the pair initially started coming out to the street corner during the evening rush hour, Edgar said they had “no idea how people would respond.” However, the most common reaction to their demonstration was to honk in support. From there, the pair added a bold “HONK” sign to encourage the response.
“We call this the Million Honk March,” said Edgar.
He said on an average day they will hear hundreds or even thousands of horn honks, ranging from a single honk to “going berserk.”
Edgar and Monatsi have gained some recognition since they began appearing at the intersection. As they go to and from their house, people will stop them on the street, eager to talk about issues, according to Edgar.
“It’s rewarding because we’re doing something that we think is a modest contribution,” said Edgar.
Edgar, a retired Howard University professor, has taken part in many movements over the years. He got his start protesting the Vietnam War, and then began working on South African issues and anti-apartheid demonstrations.
Edgar wants people who drive by to think about what their “Black Lives Matter” banner signifies at this moment in history, and what the country has gone through to get to this point in time.
“It’s not only about Black lives mattering now, but it’s about the history of our country,” said Edgar. “We’re addressing historical legacies as well as the present.”
Photo by Madeline Taylor