Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) A large group of demonstrators blocked the outbound 14th Street Bridge between D.C. and Arlington during the evening rush hour.

Protesters were sitting down across the main southbound bridge span, according to D.C. police, but then started marching towards Arlington. The group — said to number in the hundreds — previously marched from the area around the Jefferson Memorial, according to scanner traffic.

Arlington County fire department medics were dispatched to the bridge at the request of Virginia State Police for a report of a protester who is dehydrated.

Drivers should expect delays in the area, though the outbound HOV lanes remained open. Police are on scene monitoring the demonstration.

Public safety watchdog Dave Statter broadcast live video of the protest, which as of 4:35 p.m. appeared to be winding down. Demonstrators, holding signs and flags, could be seen marching back toward D.C. Lanes reopened at 4:50 p.m.

The protest is related to the persecution of an ethnic group in Ethiopia, according to social media posts. It does not appear to be associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Morning Notes

D.C. Now More Expensive Than Arlington — “D.C. has bumped Arlington County, Virginia, from the top of the most-expensive area jurisdictions by county for median home-selling prices — at least for the month of May. Long & Foster¬†reports the median price of a home that sold in the District in May was $656,000, 10% more than May of last year. The median price of a home that sold in Arlington County was $646,000, up 4%.” [WTOP]

Lower Census Response Rate Than 2010 — “In 2010, 74% of Arlington households filled out their Census form and returned it by mail, which was the only option at the time. In 2020, despite being able to fill out the Census online, by phone and by mail, Arlington’s self-response rate is hovering at just over 70%.” [Arlington County]

Missing: BLM Banner — Someone took a Black Lives Matter banner that had been hanging on a pedestrian bridge over Route 50, and its creator wants it back. [Twitter]

JBG Wants to Improve VRE Station Plan — “JBG Smith Properties could soon play a key role in a¬†second major transportation improvement project¬†in Crystal City, performing design work to beef up plans for a new Virginia Railway Express station there. The developer is advancing a plan to manage the construction of a second entrance for the nearby Crystal City Metro station, and this work on the VRE designs would be closely tied to that effort.” [Washington Business Journal]

Another Unique Feat for Wardian — Arlington ultramarathon runner Michael Wardian ran 62.3 miles to every District Taco in the D.C. area, eating tacos along the way. [Instagram]

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(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) A combination of hot days and pandemic closures has sent people flocking to the banks of the Potomac River near Chain Bridge.

On both the Virginia and D.C./Maryland sides of the river, people are fishing, picnicking, hanging out and, in some cases, swimming. The last one of those is a major danger, authorities say, as is accidental falls into the river.

First responders from D.C., Arlington and federal agencies have conducted rescue operations along the Potomac several times over the past few months.

In March, a man suffering a medical emergency was airlifted from rocky terrain on the Virginia side, just north of Chain Bridge. In May, a search and rescue operation turned into a recovery operation after a 67-year-old man fell into the river and died. On Tuesday, another search — this time, a man is presumed dead after swimming in the river, going under and not resurfacing.

On Wednesday, D.C. Fire and Rescue posted on social media, urging people to avoid the waters of the Potomac.

“The Potomac River around Chain Bridge is treacherous and deceiving,” the fire department tweeted. “DO NOT swim anywhere in this area. If you are on the shoreline, stay a safe distance from the water. A fall into the river can quickly turn fatal.”

Over this past weekend, National Park Service employees could be seen watching over the crowds from Chain Bridge. On Wednesday, U.S. Coast Guard personnel were spotted talking and showing maps to river-goers near the bridge.

One local resident told ARLnow this morning that even more needs to be done.

“Arlington and D.C. need to start policing along the river banks,” the resident said via email. “My family and I walk down to the river most nights and the trash, fires and illegal cast nets are increasing daily. It’s become a nightly party down on the river banks.”

“I grew up in Arlington and have always walked the banks. I’ve never seen anything like what’s going on now,” the resident continued. “Police need to patrol the area, like they used to. The only time you see police down there is when someone falls in…. It’s dangerous and I don’t want anyone else to die.”

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

Arlington Riot Cops Sued by ACLU — “Defendants John Poe 1 – 20 are officers of the Arlington County Police Department and other non-federal law enforcement officials who participated in the attack on peaceful protesters in and near Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020. They are sued in their individual capacities.” [Associated Press,¬†Washington Post]

Washington Monument Struck By Lightning — As seen from the Crystal City / Pentagon City area, the Washington Monument took a direct lightning strike last night. [Twitter]

Marymount Apologizes for Removed BLM Tweet — “One specific concern we heard in the Listening Session referenced the removal of a social media post last Saturday which included the message, ‘Black Lives Matter.’ This was the wrong decision. We apologize and acknowledge the impact this decision has had on our¬†Marymount community.” [Marymount University]

Arlington Unemployment Spikes — “The COVID-19 pandemic, subsequent government-imposed lockdown and resulting economic freefall cost nearly 17,000 Arlington residents their jobs between mid-March and mid-April, according to new state data…¬†The county’s unemployment rate, which in March had been a miniscule 2.2 percent, ballooned to 7 percent, knocking the county off its longstanding perch of having the best jobs picture in the commonwealth.” [InsideNova]

Local Centenarian Gets Neighborhood Parade — “Right around 5 p.m. on her 100th birthday, her usually quiet neighborhood in North Arlington was shaken up by loud sirens and flashing lights. A caravan of vehicles blaring sirens, tooting horns and shouting greetings snaked down the street for several blocks. The parade of sorts was led by two Arlington County Police officers on motorcycles followed by countless police vehicles, Arlington County Fire Department engines, sheriffs’ vehicles and several private cars and trucks, one sporting an inflatable unicorn on its roof.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

APS Welcomes New Superintendent — “This is Dr. Francisco Dur√°n’s first week as Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools. Welcome aboard! As a reminder, there are several Virtual Town Halls scheduled this month for our community, students and staff to get to know Dr. Dur√°n.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Trash Collection Still Facing Delays — “Arlington’s trash/recycling contractor continues¬†to experience staffing issues due to COVID-19. As a¬†result,¬†some routes¬†recently have¬†not been¬†completed¬†on their scheduled day,¬†requiring a follow-up run¬†the next day.¬†If¬†trash¬†and/or¬†recycling is not collected on¬†your¬†service¬†day, leave¬†the¬†carts¬†at¬†the curb¬†the next day. ‚ÄĮIf carts have not been serviced by noon the¬†second¬†day, submit¬†a¬†missed collection ticket.” [Arlington County]

County Offers Mask Flyers — “If a business or residence needs ‘face coverings required’ signs (in multiple languages), we have flyers for download here.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

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(Updated at 9:50 p.m.) Arlington County police officers who were assisting U.S. Park Police during protests in D.C. have been ordered “to immediately leave,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey tweeted Monday night.

Officers in ACPD helmets could be seen in photos and video (below) assisting with the forceful removal of protesters from around St. John’s Church, an action that involved the deployment of tear gas. Shortly thereafter, President Trump walked to the church and held up a bible, a move dismissed as a photo opportunity by critics and criticized as “antithetical to the teachings of Jesus” by the Episcopal bishop of Washington.

“Appalled mutual aid agreement abused to endanger their and others safety for a photo op,” Garvey wrote just before 9 p.m., about two hours after the incident. “We ordered @ArlingtonVaPD to immediately leave DC.”

“At the direction of the County Board, County Manager and Police Chief, all ACPD officers left the District of Columbia at 8:30 tonight,” the county subsequently said in a brief statement. “The County is re-evaluating the agreements that allowed our officers to be put in a compromising position that endangered their health and safety, and that of the people around them, for a purpose not worthy of our mutual aid obligations.”

County police in riot gear were assisting with crowd control in Lafayette Square, near the White House, following a mutual aid request from Park Police. Such requests are typically used for suspect searches or to assist with significant incidents; Arlington often requests the assistance of the U.S. Park Police helicopter, for instance.

Following inquiries from ARLnow, after we noticed ACPD helmets in a TV news broadcast Sunday night, a police spokeswoman earlier today confirmed that Arlington police were indeed in D.C. after a mutual aid request.

“ACPD’s Civil Disturbance Unit responded to a mutual aid request by United States Park Police for assistance maintain peace and order on federal park land,” department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said. “ACPD began providing support [Sunday].”

The department has worked to maintain a positive relationship with the community over the years, including by handing out water to protesters in Arlington on Sunday. On Friday, amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, police chief M. Jay Farr released a statement.

“It¬†is¬†impossible for us to achieve our mission if we lose the trust of our community,” he wrote. “When force is used, we must hold ourselves accountable for our actions.”

“We work and live by a set of core values: courage, competence, commitment, compassion, restraint, respect and integrity,” the department says in its job description for new officers.

Separately Monday night, Arlington County issued a statement¬†regarding Floyd’s killing.

“The Arlington County Board condemns the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, including the complicit officers who participated in and witnessed the murder,” the statement reads. “While the video was shocking, the circumstances of the murder should not be; they are too familiar in a nation where the disregard for and devaluing of Black lives is too common, and too often comes at the hands of the people sworn to protect them.”

Screenshot (top) via @thehill/Twitter

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(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) With a 7 p.m. curfew and protesters marching on M Street NW, D.C. police are blocking lanes of the Key Bridge heading towards Georgetown.

Stores and restaurants are boarded up along M Street, in anticipation of another night of protests in the District.

A group of peaceful protesters was heading in the direction of Georgetown around 8:15 p.m., but started heading back on Pennsylvania Avenue after encountering a police roadblock, according to reports on Twitter.

Some businesses in Arlington have also been boarded up or closed early, including the Crate and Barrel in Clarendon and a CVS store in Rosslyn, as seen in the photo gallery above.

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Update at 9:15 p.m. — Arlington police have been ordered to leave D.C., County Board Chair Libby Garvey says.

Earlier: If you were watching cable news coverage of the fiery clashes near the White House last night, you might have spotted “ACPD” on the helmets of some of the riot police.

Your eyes did not deceive you. On Sunday, Arlington County Police began assisting with the law enforcement response to the protests, which have been mostly peaceful during the day but have turned destructive after dark for three straight nights.

“ACPD’s Civil Disturbance Unit responded to a mutual aid request by United States Park Police for assistance maintain peace and order on federal park land,” department spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed, in response to inquiries from ARLnow. “ACPD began providing support [Sunday].”

Police departments often provide mutual aid to one another in the D.C. area, with its mix of local, state and federal police forces. More routine mutual aid calls involve searches for suspects, often involving K-9 officers or helicopters — for instance, U.S. Park Police’s Eagle 1 helicopter. More rarely, mutual aid is requested for significant incidents, like shootings or standoffs.

Park Police have been attempting to defend Lafayette Square, north of the White House, amid mass, nationwide protests that have followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of since-fired Minneapolis police officers, one of whom is now facing a murder charge.

It appears that Arlington officers are back on the streets of D.C. today, as the District imposes a 7 p.m. curfew in an effort to prevent more destruction and violence. Earlier today tipster noticed a convoy of Arlington public safety personnel departing from Courthouse, where ACPD headquarters is located.

“Arlington police dressed in riot gear just loaded into vans and are leaving the Courthouse area with a fire department¬†bus¬†and an armored car under police motorcycle escort,” the tipster said.

Screenshot via MSNBC/YouTube

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(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) Chain Bridge was temporarily closed Friday morning due to a search and rescue operation.

Firefighters from D.C. and Arlington, along with U.S. Park Police, were searching for a fisherman who reportedly fell into the Potomac River and did not resurface.

Numerous emergency responders arrived on scene, looking for the man from the shoreline, the bridge and by boat. (The photo above shows a previous rescue operation in the same general area, in March.)

Inbound traffic on Glebe Road was being diverted onto Chain Bridge Road. As of 9 a.m. the incident was moving from being a rescue operation to a recovery operation, with the reported missing person presumed dead, and as of 9:45 a.m. Chain Bridge was being reopened.

The Washington Post reported late Friday morning that a 67-year-old man had died after falling into the river around 7:40 a.m.

More via social media:

File photo

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Morning Notes

Board Members Remember Erik Gutshall — “The four remaining Arlington County Board members – Chair Libby Garvey, Christian Dorsey, Katie Cristol and Matt de Ferranti – spent several minutes each remembering former Vice Chair Erik Gutshall,¬†who died on Thursday after an 8-week battle with brain cancer.” [Blue Virginia]

School Board Discusses Distance Learning — “There’s both positive and negative news as Arlington Public Schools has pivoted to distance-learning in an effort to squeeze in some education during the COVID-19 lockdown. The good news? At least things have not gone as badly as in neighboring Fairfax County, where that school system’s attempt to re-start instruction collapsed in a technical debacle and ensuing recriminations last week. The bad news? Arlington school officials acknowledge that their efforts are not going to be able to replicate what could be accomplished during more normal time.” [InsideNova]

APS Names Teacher, Principal of the Year —¬†Arlington Career Center Culinary Arts Teacher Chef Renee Randolph is the 2020 Arlington Public Schools Teacher of the Year, while¬†Campbell Elementary’s Maureen Nesselrode has been named Principal of the Year.

Beyer Blasts Trump Immigration Order — “From the beginning Trump has flailed about seeking someone to blame for his own failure… Immigration has nearly stopped and the US has far more cases than any other country. This is just xenophobic scapegoating.” [Twitter]

Legality of County Grant Criteria Questioned — “The Arlington County government¬†announced¬†that it will hand out grants to small businesses based on ‘considerations’ such as whether the business is ‘women and/or minority-owned.’ That ‘consideration’ of race and sex is unconstitutional.” [CNSNews]

VRE Train Strikes Man in D.C. Near Long Bridge — “A man was hit and killed by a train in Southwest D.C. Monday morning and train traffic in the area has been stopped.¬† The man was struck in the 1300 block of Maryland Avenue SW, the D.C. fire department said on Twitter at 7:30 a.m.” [NBC 4, Twitter]

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Morning Notes

EFC Metro Closing This Weekend — The Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church Metro stations will be closed this weekend, “due to preparation for the Summer Platform Improvement Project.” Per Metro: “Customers on¬†Ballston-bound Orange Line trains¬†who are¬†continuing on to West Falls Church¬†should¬†exit the train at Virginia Square¬†for a same platform transfer.” [WMATA]

Pentagon City Armed Robbery Spike — “So far in 2020, there have been five total armed robberies in Pentagon City. Last year, there were seven for the entire year.” In response to the recent string of parking garage carjackings, Pentagon City mall says “we have increased our security presence to ensure a safe and secure environment.” [WJLA]

Arlington’s Ultra-Low Unemployment Rate — “How low can it go? That may be the question for Arlington’s unemployment rate. The jobless figure squeezed down to 1.6 percent in December, ending the year at its lowest rate of 2019 and – for the umpteenth month and year in a row – lowest in the commonwealth.” [InsideNova]

NFL Star Returns to Arlington — “M. J. Stewart, @Buccaneers Cornerback and Arlington native stopped by his alma mater @APSVirginia!” [Twitter]

Arlington Dems Want Record Turnout — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee is aiming to increase the community’s¬† 2020 voter-participation rate nearly 10 percent from 2016’s presidential race, building on past efforts and launching new initiatives to get there. ‘We’re pulling out all the stops,’ party chair Jill Caiazzo said on Feb. 5.” [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Pupatella Coming to D.C. — “The rumors are true:¬†Pupatella¬†will bring its wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas to Dupont Circle, occupying the prime indoor/outdoor space that housed Rosemary’s Thyme for nearly 18 years. Owner and Naples native¬†Enzo Algarme¬†says his team is angling for a spring opening.” [Washingtonian, PoPville]

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Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is ramping up in Arlington.

Tonight the campaign is holding an official opening celebration for its new office at Pentagon Row, located between DSW and Planet Fitness.

This weekend the office will be hosting a leg of the campaign’s Gun Violence Prevention Bus Tour, featuring D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the mother featured in Bloomberg’s gun violence-focused¬†Super Bowl commercial.

More from the campaign:

On Sunday, February 9, two national surrogates for Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and senior Bloomberg advisor Debbie Weir, will travel to Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Arlington as part of a multi-state bus tour highlighting the urgent need to prevent gun violence in America.

Calandrian Simpson Kemp, a mother from Texas whose son, George Kemp Jr., was shot and killed is featured in the ad that aired during the Super Bowl, and her husband George Kemp, will participate in the tour. Simpson Kemp is an active member of Moms Demand Action, the grassroots movement fighting for public safety measures to protect Americans from gun violence.

Joining the Kemp family will be two Virginians who were highlighted in Bloomberg’s recent digital ads. Colin Goddard was shot and injured in the mass shooting at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, in which 32 classmates and faculty were killed. Brenda Moss’ 34 year-old son, Shawn, was killed on August 26th, 2014 in Lynchburg, VA. He was shot 17 times in a senseless act of gun violence. Brenda has become an outspoken advocate for gun violence prevention and an active member of Moms Demand Action.

Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg LP, plans to¬†double his campaign’s already prodigious ad spending in the wake of the chaotic conclusion to the Iowa caucuses. Once considered a long-shot to capture the Democratic nomination, Bloomberg’s poll numbers have been rising — tied for third¬†with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a recent national poll.

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