(Updated at 9:30 p.m.) What many believed would be the most competitive Arlington County Board race in four years has turned out to be another convincing Democratic victory.
Clement strongly opposes the proposal to allow smaller-scale multifamily housing in neighborhoods currently zoned only for single-family homes, while Theo supports it. De Ferranti, meanwhile, staked out a middle ground, expressing opposition to the higher 8-unit end of the potential range of allowed housing types.
With 55 out of 57 precincts reporting, de Ferranti has 60% of the vote to 28% for Clement and 10% for Theo.
Both Clement and Theo ran for County Board last year, before Missing Middle came to the fore as a hot-button local issue. In the 2021 race, Democrat Takis Karantonis carried about 60% of the vote to 18% for Clement, 6% for Theo and 14% for Mike Cantwell, another independent candidate..
The Missing Middle proposal has attracted the ire of many homeowners, while a coalition of groups — from affordable housing boosters to the local chapter of the NAACP — support it.
An early look at precinct-by-precinct results shows support for Clement in Arlington’s northern, single-family home neighborhoods. The Madison district in far northern Arlington, for instance, has voted 58% for Clement to 36% for de Ferranti and 4% for Theo. She also claimed the Thrifton (Woodmont), Rock Spring, and Yorktown districts — all also in far northern Arlington.
That compares to the more renter-heavy Met Park district, in the Pentagon City neighborhood, which voted 64% for de Ferranti and 20% for Clement and 15% for Theo. A more “in between” district — Fairlington, with its mix of townhouses and smaller condo buildings — voted 66% for de Ferranti, 23% for Clement and 9% for Theo.
Also on the ballot today were School Board and congressional races, which were even more lopsided for the Democratic candidates.
For the open Arlington School Board seat vacated by Barbara Kanninen, Arlington County Democratic Committee-endorsed candidate Bethany Sutton has 68% of the vote to 30% for independent James ‘Vell’ Rives IV.
Arlington Democrats claimed victory on Twitter just after 9 p.m.
— Arlington Democrats (@arlingtondems) November 9, 2022
De Ferranti tells ARLnow he was impressed by the 85,000 people who voted this election, in which there was no senatorial, gubernatorial or presidential race.
“In Virginia, that doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “There are other elections where there is an even lower turnout. This is a pretty rare election, and to have 85,000 vote in this election is a pretty solid turnout.”
He said addressing climate change, investing in schools and tackling affordable housing and housing affordability — “related but distinct” issues — will be key priorities this term.
“I’m grateful to Arlington residents for the chance to serve them,” he said. “I love doing this job and I’m humbled, grateful, and looking forward to serving over the next four years. I’m going to try and live up to Arlingtonians: that means being smart, thoughtful and compassionate, caring about our community and being forward-looking.”
Clement told ARLnow she was dismayed with the results, though she won four out of 54 districts — including Madison, with her 22-point margin — and came within just over 1% of the vote in another.
“I didn’t perform as well as I thought I would,” she said. “I thought I would push 40% — the sentiment I got on the street indicated a better showing.”
County Fair Starts Today — “The Arlington County Fair will take place from August 17 – 21 at Thomas Jefferson Community Center located at 3501 2nd Street S. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closure to accommodate the event: From approximately 8:00 a.m. on August 17 to 11:00 p.m. on August 21… 2nd Street S. closed between S. Jackson Street and S. Irving Street.” [ACPD]
Fewer Car Tax Notices — “Arlington County Board members as part of their annual budget process eliminated the $33-per-vehicle decal fee… About 20,000 vehicles will thus have nothing owed on them, and the treasurer’s office has decided not to send notices to them. An additional 30,000 county residents who own two or more vehicles under the same name will see their billing information consolidated into a single mailing in order to achieve ‘significant savings on paper and postage,’ Treasurer Carla de la Pava said in an Aug. 15 letter.” [Sun Gazette]
Senators Hail New Law — “U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law: ‘We’re proud that this law will lower the price of prescription drugs, reduce the deficit, bring down energy bills and fight climate change… We will continue to look for ways to support the health and well-being of our communities, decrease inflation, and lower costs for Virginians.'” [Sen. Mark Warner]
Opera Making a Comeback? — “Supporters of Northern Virginia’s opera scene are hoping to reanimate the dormant Opera Guild of Northern Virginia, which through the years has raised funds and provided other support to opera organizations as well as promoting fellowships among those who appreciate the art form and introducing children to the unique and inclusive nature of opera.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 81 and low of 65. Sunrise at 6:26 am and sunset at 8:02 pm. [Weather.gov]
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is addressing a key constituent concern — airplane noise — through the just-signed CHIPS Act.
The $280 billion bill is primarily focused on boosting domestic semiconductor manufacturing, but contains other scientific research provisions. Among them is wording from Beyer to “bolster NASA’s efforts to reduce emissions from the aviation industry while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.”
“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district,” Beyer said in a statement yesterday. “I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law.”
The legislation “authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions,” Beyer’s office said in a press release.
The roar of jet engines from airliners arriving at and departing from National Airport has long been a concern of Arlington and Alexandria residents, particularly those who live along the flight paths near the Potomac River. Beyer has frequently pledged to address the noise issue from commercial airliners and military helicopters, writing letters to top federal officials about flight paths and attaching legislation to larger bills.
The full press release is below.
President Joe Biden yesterday signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law, which included the first NASA authorization passed by Congress in over five years. That section of the Act, Title VII of the science division, included the full text of Rep. Don Beyer’s Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act. Beyer chairs the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics; he introduced the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act to bolster NASA’s efforts to create the next generation of climate-friendly aviation while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.
“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district. I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law,” said Beyer. “As the climate crisis continues to harm American communities, ensuring we are also tackling aviation emissions is vital. This piece of legislation does just that by making the necessary investments to develop the technology to make cleaner flight a reality in addition to driving innovation that would reduce aircraft noise pollution.”
This legislation sets a goal for cleaner, quieter airplanes, accelerating NASA’s aeronautics work on reducing greenhouse gas and noise emissions. Specifically, this bill:
- Establishes the ambitious goal of commercial airplanes emitting 50 percent less greenhouse gas compared to the highest performing aircraft in 2021 as well as being net-zero by 2050.
- Challenges NASA to work with industry partners to carry out flight tests by 2025 that will enable industry to bring a new generation of more sustainable airplanes into service between 2030 and 2040.
- Authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions.
- Requires NASA to provide data and insight on new technologies to help the FAA’s work to ensure the safe and effective deployment of these technologies.
Text of the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act is available here.
SFH Prices Up 11 Percent — “Something may have to give, eventually, but, for now, average single-family-home sales prices in Arlington continue to spike, according to new data. The average sales price of the 108 existing single-family homes that went to closing across the county in June stood at just over $1.35 million, up 11 percent from the already red-hot market of June 2021.” [Sun Gazette]
CAIR Backs Arlington House Bill — “The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today expressed its support for legislation that would rename a memorial currently dedicated to Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Arlington, Va.” [Press Release]
Arlington Crisis Line Now at 988 — “A new 9-8-8 crisis and support hotline is now active across the United States, including here in Arlington County. In 2020, Congress designated a new 9-8-8 dialing code to operate through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) network, which has more than 200 locally operated and funded crisis lines across the country. PRS, Inc. operates the local network in Arlington.” [Arlington County]
Public Comment Rules Stretched — “After getting pilloried a month before for what critics called a heavy-handed approach to enforcing rules on public comment, County Board Chairman Katie Cristol on July 16 loosened her grip on the gavel just a bit. Cristol acknowledged that she was being a little more loose in her interpretation of rules for the July board meeting than she had been in June, when she shut down comment on the government’s Missing Middle housing proposal after just two speakers at the public-comment period.” [Sun Gazette]
Late Metro Critic Was Arlingtonian — “Matt Hilburn, a journalist and communications specialist best-known for his creation and curation of the popular and unsparing transportation social media account Unsuck DC Metro, died July 17 at his home in Arlington, Va. He was 54. The cause was complications of kidney cancer that had metastasized, said his father.” [Washington Post]
Board Members on Abortion Rights — From Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol: “We are joining with the many Arlingtonians who are now expressing their anger and frustration and their fear at the Dobbs v Jackson decision and at Gov. Youngkin’s threat to abortion rights in Virginia. We are committed as this Board to mitigating and preventing the public health crisis that these actions could precipitate and we will advocate for the protection of the fundamental human right to bodily autonomy.” [Blue Virginia]
Tech Event in Rosslyn Tonight — “For the 7th consecutive year, DCA Live and our partners are excited to recognize the 2022 Red Hot Companies, the Washington region’s fastest growing and most exciting companies. We’ll be profiling these companies over the coming weeks and will celebrate them with a lively, fun event on the evening of Wednesday, July 20 on the rooftop of Sands Capital in Rosslyn, VA.” [DCA Live]
Falls Church Check Fraud — “Last week, after being notified of suspicious activity, the City of Falls Church discovered fraudulent checks were cashed using the City’s accounts… City of Falls Church Police are aware of a possible national trend of checks being stolen from blue USPS mailboxes. The Police advise residents and businesses to mail checks and valuables directly through a post office.” [City of Falls Church]
It’s Wednesday — Humid throughout the day. High of 91 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:01 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Vincent
(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) The ballot for the general election has been set, with three races to be decided by local voters.
Multiple candidates for Arlington County Board, School Board and the 8th Congressional District have qualified for the ballot. The first day of in-person early voting is Friday, Sept. 23 and the last day to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 17, according to Arlington’s election office.
8th Congressional District
In the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary, incumbent Rep. Don Beyer overcame challenger Victoria Virasingh. Beyer goes on to the general election to face the GOP nominee, Arlington resident Karina A. Lipsman, and independent candidate Teddy Fikre.
The seat for the 8th District, which encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County, has been held by a Democrat for decades. Beyer won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.
I am grateful to voters in Northern Virginia for again making me their Democratic nominee to represent Virginia’s 8th District. Their trust in me is humbling, and I will continue to do all I can to earn it. pic.twitter.com/dZ34jFSyvW
— Don Beyer (@DonBeyerVA) June 21, 2022
Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment,” said an email from the Arlington GOP after the nomination.
Lipsman, who is originally from Ukraine, outlines priorities such as supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion on her website. She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools and vocational training programs.
Among issues Beyer lists on his campaign website are climate change, housing, immigration, gun violence prevention, the federal workforce and others.
Fikre’s website says he is an IT project manager with an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, cares about inclusive justice and “implementing policies that restore fairness in America and enacting laws that are rooted in love.” Among issues he’s focused on are making taxes voluntary for the working, middle and upper-middle-class, as well as forgiving all student loans.
Arlington County Board
During his tenure on the board, de Ferranti says he has focused on Covid response, racial equity and priorities like affordable housing, hunger, climate change and school funding.
Two independent candidates will also be on the ballot — and not for their first time — seeking a seat.
Independent Adam Theo, who is vice president of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, is running on a platform of expanding government accountability, prioritizing public safety and making housing affordable. Theo describes himself as “a fierce non-partisan free-thinking ‘progressive libertarian.'” He was previously deployed to eastern Afghanistan while serving in the Air Force Reserve as a civil engineer.
Civic activist Audrey Clement is also running as an independent, seeking to reduce taxes, stop up-zoning, and preserve parks, trees and historic places. She said on her website she’s running “because the Board has pushed harmful policies resulting in: overcrowded schools, gentrification, loss of green space, and a 10 year average annual effective tax rate increase that is twice the rate of inflation.”
The Westover resident has been a perennial candidate over the last decade or so and says she believes once people realize the ‘Missing Middle’ housing push will rezone some neighborhoods, they will support a candidate like her.
Arlington School Board
Local Republicans nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman on Saturday to seek the U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).
Early voting is underway for the primary to determine whether Lipsman faces Beyer or his primary challenger, Victoria Virasingh, in the November general election. The 8th District encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County.
At the local GOP’s ranked choice convention, Lipsman earned 61.5% of the votes in the first round of vote counting, according to a press release on her campaign website.
Votes for Lipsman came out ahead of other Republican hopefuls as the slate of candidates sought to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Alexandria resident Kezia Tunnell received 19.12% of the vote, and the 2020 nominee Jeff Jordan received 15.92%. Two other candidates, McLean resident Monica Carpio, and Heerak Christian Kim, a registered nurse and former public school teacher, did not break 2.5%, the release stated.
Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment” in the 8th District, an email from Arlington GOP read. The seat has been held by a Democrat for decades, including by Beyer who won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.
Lipsman fled Ukraine when it was still under Soviet Union control and came to the United States with her mother and grandparents, according to her campaign website. They didn’t speak English, survived on food stamps and lived in low-income housing in Baltimore. When she was 18, Lipsman became a U.S. citizen.
She received a bachelor’s degree in economics while she was working full-time in the financial industry, and later earned a master’s in engineering from Johns Hopkins, according to the website. She’s worked in the national defense industry for over a decade.
Her website outlines priorities like supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion.
She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools, and vocational training programs. She also wrote, “We must fight the dangerous voices that call for lowering educational standards in the name of equity.”
Lipsman’s website mentions extremists and divisive politics.
“Let’s be honest — there are loud extremists on both sides, who benefit from dividing our country, and we cannot let that happen,” the website says. “Divisive politics are poisonous and we must work together to overcome the gridlock on the critical issues that are facing our country.”
After living in Arlington for more than 10 years, she says she understands the issues facing the community.
“As your congresswoman, I will engage with you directly and represent your interests and put solutions for our district before partisan politics,” her website reads. “I will advocate for common-sense policies that fight crime, reduce inflation, ease transportation and improve our educational standards.”
Photo via Fairfax County Republican Committee
‘Innovation Studio’ Planned at HQ2 — “Amazon Web Services will open a new AWS Innovation Studio to collaborate on global solutions that leverage its cloud computing technologies to address issues such as housing insecurity, social justice, climate change, sustainability and health and education inequality. A first for AWS, the studio will launch at Amazon’s new HQ2 headquarters under construction in Arlington, Va.” [CRN]
First Responders Honor Fallen Marine — “ACPD and @ArlingtonVaFD paid our respects to USMC Sgt. Nicole Gee, who was tragically killed in action in Kabul, as her procession traveled through Arlington this evening. May we never forget her service and sacrifice.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Power Outage Near Rosslyn — “About 450 homes and businesses are without power in the Rosslyn area this morning. Initial reports suggest that residents heard a loud boom and firefighters subsequently found a very unlucky squirrel.” [Twitter]
Beyer Blasts GOP for Debt Limit Drama — “By filibustering legislation that would prevent a default, they are gambling with the full faith and credit of the United States. This is poor economic stewardship. The responsible course of action is to increase the debt ceiling to prevent a catastrophic default.” [Press Release]
APS Preparing for Collective Bargaining — “The push to give Arlington Public Schools’ staff collective-bargaining rights is expected to move another step forward in coming weeks. School Board members on Sept. 30 will review a draft list of budget priorities for next year to be handed to Superintendent Francisco Durán. Among the directives in the staff proposal: create a timeline for implementation of collective-bargaining, which until recently was banned for public-sector workers in local governments across Virginia.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s National Recovery Month — “September is celebrated as National Recovery Month with the purpose of educating communities about recovery from mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders; the effectiveness of treatment and recovery support services; and that recovery is possible. Arlington proudly stands alongside our recovery community.” [Arlington County]
Virginia Gubernatorial Debate — “Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe outlined sharply different pictures of Virginia and visions for its future Tuesday in the second and final debate of this year’s race for governor. Youngkin, a former business executive, described a state racked with crime and struggling under a dying economy, then pledged to fix it by slashing taxes and beefing up law enforcement. McAuliffe took credit for creating a booming economy when he served as governor from 2014 to 2018.” [Washington Post]
Tuesday Morning’s Big Boom — “A big boom was reported across a wide swath of Fairfax County from Reston and Herndon to McLean around 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday, leaving many residents confused regarding the possible source. The sound was likely caused by loud thunder that accompanied a storm that was crossing the area at the time.” [FFXnow]
Free Vax Shots for Kids Ages 12-15 — “Arlington County will begin to administer free COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 12-15 years of age who live or are schooled in Arlington beginning Saturday, May 15. This follows the expansion of Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to children 12 and over… Approximately 8,000 children aged 12-15 live in Arlington. Arlington will offer Saturday through Monday clinics over the next two weekends for children 12-17 years of age to help meet anticipated demand for the vaccine.” [Arlington County]
Blowback Over Summer School Limits — “Arlington school leaders are getting abuse from both ends when it comes to criticism of newly announced summer-school restrictions. A group that has pressed Arlington schools leaders for a faster reopening of classes says new limitations show a continued lack of leadership, while at the same time the Arlington Education Association is blasting school leaders for throwing teachers under the bus on the issue.” [Sun Gazette, NBC 4]
Neighborhood ‘Toolkits’ on Race — “Arlington County today released a set of new tools to help advance racial equity efforts in Arlington. The collection of neighborhood toolkits and data dashboards are products of the County’s Realizing Arlington’s Commitment to Equity (RACE) program… The Toolkits for Conversations on Race & Equity are self-guided programs that can be used to spark conversations with family, friends, and neighbors.” [Arlington County]
Lubber Run Performances Return — “After being closed for the entirety of the summer 2020 season due to the pandemic, the Arlington County government’s Lubber Run Amphitheatre will host free programming in July and August. Performances will be Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 11 a.m. The season opens with blues singer-songwriter Chris Pierce performing on Friday, July 9.” [Sun Gazette]
Beyer Suicide Bill Passes — “You’ve heard of 911 for emergencies and 411 for information. Now the House of Representatives is debating a bill that could educate people about a new number for the National Suicide Hotline, 988. Colleen Creighton at the American Association of Suicidology says a bill introduced by Congressman Don Beyer will help spread the word about the new hotline.” [WVTF, Twitter]
Nearby: New Owner for McLean Shopping Center — “McLean’s Chesterbrook Shopping Center has changed hands for the first time since the early 1980s… ‘Chesterbrook Center is well positioned for significant growth and perfectly aligns with our Northern Virginia strategy,’ Barry Carty, Federal Realty’s senior vice president of East Coast acquisitions, said.” [Tysons Reporter]
(Updated 12:20 a.m.) Before the coronavirus, Reade Bush’s son was a talkative child with autism and ADHD who loved school and his friends.
But the pandemic changed the world and in turn changed him. Without a routine and social opportunities, his son created an imaginary world “with 52 friends.” By summertime, he struggled to distinguish his real world from his imaginary one. He began hallucinating.
“On his ninth birthday, he asked me, ‘Daddy, can I die for my birthday?'” he recounted to some members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Labor and Education Committee last Thursday. Encouraged by another APS parent, who had connections on Capitol Hill, Bush told members of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee about the ways COVID-19 has impacted students with disabilities.
Public school systems are required by law to provide to students with disabilities the specialized instruction and therapeutic services they need to learn alongside their non-disabled peers where possible. Using his family’s story, Bush told the committee that virtual instruction has made it almost impossible to meet that charge.
Arlington Public Schools, which shut down in March 2020, started the 2020-21 school year with four days of distance learning and one planning day. By November, some students with disabilities could return for in-person learning supports. Since mid-March, students across all grade levels have trickled back for two days of in-person instruction.
This fall, 95% of students will be enrolled for five days a week of in-person instruction, something administrators have repeatedly told families and School Board members that they will deliver. But Bush said his son and and his daughter, who has cerebral palsy, have regressed academically and socially and should have been given in-person instruction sooner.
Over the last year, many parents have recounted stories of their children losing their love of learning. But for Bush, his son lost more than that — he lost sleep, social skills and his grip on reality.
“We feel like we have lost our son,” he tells ARLnow.
Bush and his wife recorded and sent to administrators videos of their son and their daughter struggle to engage with their teachers. He praised his kids’ teachers, therapists and school building-level administrators for “trying to make lemonade from lemons” but Bush had to work nights and his wife had to quit her job to support their children from home.
The parents aimed to get students with disabilities face-to-face with teachers and peers. Bush advocated for this during meetings with teachers and administrators, School Board office hours and Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee meetings.
“We were told, ‘There’s nothing we can do,'” he said.
Meanwhile, his son’s condition worsened, landing him in Children’s National Hospital for four days. After running numerous tests, doctors concluded the child’s autism had worsened due to social isolation.
Doctors prescribed four medications, but said “what he needed most was to return to full-time, in-person learning so that he could begin to solidify his identity with real, in-person teachers and peers,” Bush told the subcommittee.
Bush told ARLnow that three doctors wrote to administrators asking for his son to be placed in an in-person private special-education school. (When local public schools cannot meet children’s needs, it can use state funds to place them in a specialized school).
He said administrators denied his multiple requests in part because his son would only be socializing with students with disabilities. Where possible, another federal statute requires schools to place disabled students with non-disabled peers.
His son instead learned from an iPad in a classroom alone, save for a staff member who helped him, he said.
“In November, we brought in our most vulnerable students with disabilities population to immediately help provide support to access virtual instruction and as soon as we could staff it and tried to provide in-person instruction to the extent possible,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow this morning. “While some support was provided by special education assistants and Extended day staff, we worked hard to provide training to the staff that supported [these students].”
Two Arlington County firefighters were the only paramedics present at ground zero of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, treating and triaging injured law enforcement officers and attackers alike.
That’s according to a new report from the Associated Press, citing dozens of documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.
From the AP:
Two firefighters loaned to Washington for the day were the only medics on the Capitol steps Jan. 6, trying to triage injured officers as they watched the angry mob swell and attack police working to protect Congress.
Law enforcement agents were “being pulled into the crowd and trampled, assaulted with scaffolding materials, and/or bear maced by protesters,” wrote Arlington County firefighter Taylor Blunt in an after-action memo. Some couldn’t walk, and had to be dragged to safety.
Even the attackers sought medical help, and Blunt and his colleague Nathan Waterfall treated those who were passing out or had been hit. But some “feigned illness to remain behind police lines,” Blunt wrote.
Blunt, who’s also the Public Information Officer for the Arlington County Fire Department, said he and his colleagues were “among the first mutual aid teams to arrive,” and they “were critical to begin the process of driving protestors off the Capitol,” according to the AP.
The reporting suggests Arlington first responders had an earlier and more active role in defending the Capitol than previously known. County officials have not provided much specificity around what support Arlington police and firefighters provided in the District that day, and when.
ARLnow previously reported on large convoys of Arlington first responders that were seen heading into D.C. in the midst of the Capitol chaos that afternoon, and on video footage showing riot gear-clad ACPD officers pushing back unruly protesters that night.
At the time, a department spokeswoman declined to provide ARLnow with additional information on the deployments of Arlington police officers, citing the need to not divulge tactical information. Blunt, reached via email on Friday, declined an interview.
“Since the incident is still under investigation, we have decided not to provide interviews at this time,” he wrote. “Hopefully, my memo provided to the press via the FOIA request gives you some perspective of the challenges we had to face that day.”
ARLnow reported on Jan. 5 that Arlington police would be in D.C. as a result of a mutual aid request from the Metropolitan Police Department. Arlington officers would “assist our regional law enforcement partners in maintaining peace and order in the event of a significant disturbance or unrest,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
The AP report notes that county officials were informed that Arlington officers were responding to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol around 3:30 p.m., an hour or so after the ACFD medics started treating injured people on the Capitol steps.
…it was 3:39 p.m. when Penn emailed county officials that he had “just been notified” that Arlington officers were responding to the Capitol attack and had been absorbed into the overall response led by Capitol Police.
That was almost 90 minutes after the mob first busted into the Capitol and more than an hour after the medics began treating injured police on the steps.
Previously unpublished photos taken by ARLnow that day show the men loitering near the Marine Corps War Memorial, with the overrun Capitol in the background. Parked nearby are numerous vehicles, mostly pickup trucks and SUVs with out-of-state license plates.
One pickup truck, with large toolbox in the back, was left running.
The man with the earpiece appears to have been focused on some sort of communications device with an antenna. He was among a group standing outside, in the cold, wearing hooded sweatshirts and other inconspicuous cold weather gear. None were wearing the tactical vests and helmets that militia members who charged into the Capitol that day wore.
Still, the group was deemed suspicious enough that Arlington County police received at least one call from a passerby, concerned about what they were doing there. An officer drove by after the 4 p.m. call but didn’t see anything, according to police department spokesman Ashley Savage.
“At approximately 4:09 p.m. on January 6, the Emergency Communications Center received a report of 9-10 males acting suspiciously and looking around on the Iwo Jima War Memorial property,” Savage said in response to an inquiry from ARLnow. “The United States Park Police was notified to check the park area. ACPD patrol units checked Meade Street and Arlington property, nothing was located and the call was cleared.”
“I have no additional details to provide,” Savage added.
The photos above were taken by ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott around 3:30 p.m., just before Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he was sending the Virginia National Guard into D.C.
In recalling the moment, Westcott — a Navy veteran — said the gathering “had the feeling of a rally point.” He shot the scene from a distance with a 600mm lens, reluctant to get any closer due to potential safety concerns.
By nightfall, the men had dispersed, as ARLnow originally reported in an article about the curfew that night.
It’s unclear what the as-yet unidentified men were doing at the memorial that afternoon. Was their presence purely coincidental, or somehow connected to the pro-Trump rally and subsequent violence at the Capitol?
What is known is that somewhere outside of the District that day, according to federal prosecutors, a “quick reaction force” with a stockpile of weapons was allegedly ready to join the fight if ordered to do so by President Trump.
At a Friday court hearing for Jessica Watkins, a member of the Oath Keepers militia from Ohio who is accused of helping to plot the attack on the Capitol, prosecutors told a federal judge that “[it is] our understanding” that the quick reaction force did exist and was stationed somewhere near D.C.
Judge is now asking whether there really was a "quick reaction force" stationed outside D.C. with weapons for militia members' use on Jan. 6. Prosecutor:
"That is our understanding." And after that tantalizing detail, they are moving off the record.
— Rachel Weiner (@rachelweinerwp) February 26, 2021