(Updated at 5:35 p.m.) Fifty years ago today — on August 25, 1967 — the leader of the American Nazi Party was gunned down at the Dominion Hills Shopping Center while trying to do his laundry.
George Lincoln Rockwell was shot by former neo-Nazi John Patler from the rooftop of the shopping center when he went out to his car to go and get bleach to clean his clothes with at the laundromat. Patler was arrested half an hour later, after throwing his gun into Four Mile Run nearby, when he was spotted with wet trousers waiting for a bus by a police officer.
From the American Nazi Party’s headquarters in Ballston, Rockwell and his followers called for black people to be returned to Africa and for Jews to be gassed. Local historian Charlie Clark, who writes the “Our Man in Arlington” column for the Falls Church News-Press and wrote a magazine article about the history of Nazis in Arlington, said a lot of people found the group’s views troubling.
“For many people, it was pretty shocking,” Clark said. “It was only 15 years after World War II, when a lot of veterans who lived in Arlington who had fought the Nazis would have to put up with this group.”
Members marched in a local parade and picketed places as varied as the White House and an Arlington pizza restaurant owned by a Jewish family. Rockwell also ran for Governor of Virginia in 1965, but only received 1 percent of the vote.
Clark said that more than anything, Rockwell was a publicity seeker, who received press coverage for a while before most reporters of the time lost interest in his antics.
“His bark was much bigger than his bite,” Clark said. “The Nazis never really committed any violence, never assassinated anybody. They just liked shocking people.”
The Commonwealth’s Attorney at the time pushed for Patler, who Clark said changed his name from John Patsalos as a homage to Adolf Hitler, to receive the death penalty. But the jury gave him a 20-year prison sentence, and he was released on parole after eight years. Patler then violated his parole and received an additional six years in jail.
The American Nazi Party never quite recovered from Rockwell’s assassination, although remained in Arlington until the 1980s — based in what is now a coffee shop in Courthouse — before moving to Wisconsin. Since the dawn of the internet and social media, the group has appeared to gain more visibility again.
Clark said that the policy of not giving the group much publicity in the media in the 1960s seemed to work well, and that could be a lesson for today.
“I think there must be a way for the news media and average citizens to keep an eye on it, because it can explode or it can grow in a subterranean way,” he said. “But there is an argument for not putting it on the front page, not alarming people.”
However, today there was a reminder that Rockwell’s Nazi beliefs did not die with him. A group of at least five men and one woman arrived in the parking lot, set up a small swastika-adorned wreath and a Nazi flag, and gave the “Heil Hitler” salute in memory of Rockwell, according to a photo tweeted by NBC 4’s Mark Segraves.
A small group of Nazis just showed up in Arlington to honor George Lincoln Rockwell on 50th Anniv at site of his murder. pic.twitter.com/hib7oTdXkh
— Mark Segraves (@SegravesNBC4) August 25, 2017
As of 1:45 p.m., the group was no longer at the shopping center and shoppers were going about their daily business. One passerby said she was surprised at the boldness of the Nazis demonstrating openly in a diverse community like Arlington
“It’s shocking,” she said. “You don’t expect to see it in this area. It’s normally so quiet.”
Late Friday afternoon the Washington Post reported that the Nazis were with a group called the New Order, the successor to the American Nazi Party. All but one were local to the Washington area.
A small grocery store at the Dominion Hills Centre shopping plaza will close at month’s end, another business to depart the neighborhood strip mall.
The Dominion Hills Grocery & Deli at 6035 Wilson Blvd will close at the end of July after 13 years. The store’s owner said the closure is because of a sudden rent increase by the property owner.
A sign on the store’s front door reads:
To our friends, neighbors & customers at Dominion Hills Centre,
This is to inform you all that Dominion Food-Mart will be closing on July 31, 2017. We deeply appreciate the loyalty and the support from you all for the past 13 years.
It has been a great pleasure knowing and being friend[s] with you.
We will miss you all very much!
The store is the latest to depart the shopping center, months after Little River Yoga Studio, Great Harvest Bread Company and the florist all shuttered.
Those storefronts are still listed as being for rent by the property’s owner, Rosenthal, but all are still vacant.
A reader emailed to say that she and others in the Dominion Hills community are concerned that the shopping center will “go the way of Clarendon,” which has seen the departure of long-time businesses as rent has increased.
(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) A construction crew hit a gas line in the Dominion Hills neighborhood this afternoon.
Trucks from the Arlington County Fire Department and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue responded to the 6000 block of 9th Road N. after reports of the gas leak just after 2:30 p.m.
According to scanner traffic, the crew hit a two-inch gas line while doing work on the road, but the gas leak was stopped within about a half hour, as police were preparing to evacuate homes in the area. The odor of natural gas was still in the air shortly after the leak was stopped.
Fire trucks and traffic cones blocked off 9th Road N. between N. Livingston Street and N. Liberty Street. As of 3:30 p.m., Washington Gas crews were on the way to make repairs.
Updated 11:30 a.m. — Police have reopened Patrick Henry Drive.
Earlier: Emergency crews have closed part of Patrick Henry Drive in the Dominion Hills neighborhood due to downed power lines.
Patrick Henry Drive is closed between 9th Street N. and 9th Road N. where the live wires fell into the road just after 9:30 a.m.
A police officer at the scene confirmed that a truck or similarly high vehicle pulled down the power lines, which are laying in the roadway.
Workers from Dominion Virginia Power are on the way to the scene, but they had not arrived as of 10 a.m. Drivers should seek alternate routes.
Three businesses have closed in short order at the Dominion Hills Centre shopping plaza, worrying some local residents — but remaining businesses say there’s little cause for concern.
A tipster emailed ARLnow.com earlier this week lamenting the shuttering of the Little River Yoga Studio at 6025 Wilson Blvd. The tipster said it was the “latest to go,” following the departure of the Great Harvest Bread Company as well as the florist nearby.
But expiring leases and other circumstances were behind the closures, not a larger trend, we’re told. Business owners that have remained say foot traffic and sales remain healthy.
Great Harvest closed at the end of January. Franchisee Brad Hurst, who operates the bakery’s Alexandria location alongside his wife, said that it proved difficult to run two stores, especially as the larger Alexandria one took up more time.
After taking over the franchise’s five-year lease with approximately two years remaining, Hurst said they made the decision to close and focus their energies in Alexandria.
“Probably for the last year or so, we knew it was a lot of effort for what we were getting as far as traffic and sales,” Hurst said. “When the lease came up, we let that expire, much to the disappointment of several customers. We have to make sure our effort is rewarded with the business, so it was hard to keep it going.”
The shopping center’s florist had been in business for several decades at 6035 Wilson Blvd, but multiple business owners in the plaza said it closed when its owners retired and let the lease expire. It is now being marketed for another tenant.
Then Little River Yoga relocated its classes to Faith Lutheran Church at 3313 Arlington Blvd and rebranded as Ashtanga Nation. It made the move in mid-January.
Katie Gilman, owner of Taste by Katie, which provides reheatable meals to bring home, said business appears healthy for the dozen-plus stores that remain, including her own. When a reporter visited on Thursday afternoon, the plaza’s parking lot was about two-thirds full.
“Three [closures] seem like it could be a big percentage, but it’s really not when you consider all the stores open along here,” Gilman said.
A car and an Arlington County school bus carrying students collided Tuesday afternoon near Upton Hill Regional Park.
A red SUV and the school bus collided just after 3 p.m. at the intersection of Wilson Boulevard and Patrick Henry Drive. Neither vehicle appeared to sustain much damage other than a few small dents and scratches.
A police officer at the scene told ARLnow.com the crash was “very minor.”
Four police cruisers arrived at the scene and closed one lane of traffic behind the two vehicles. All other traffic proceeded as normal. Another school bus arrived around 3:30 p.m. to pick up the students, who remained on the bus after the crash.
Olympic medalist and former figure skating world champion Michelle Kwan is slated to attend three Clinton campaign events in Northern Virginia, two of which will be in Arlington, according to a press release.
Kwan will make stops at a phone bank in Arlington’s Dominion Hills neighborhood and at a Thai restaurant in Ballston “to discuss Clinton’s agenda for tax fairness and help launch ‘Asian American and Pacific Islander Virginians for Hillary.'”
Kwan’s full schedule of appearances is below:
Small Business Retail Walk
WHEN: Thursday, August 18th at 12:00 PM
WHERE: Eden Center, 6751 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church, VA
Arlington Phone Bank
WHEN: Thursday, August 18th at 4:30 PM
WHERE: 6035 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA
AAPI Virginians for Hillary Launch Happy Hour
WHEN: Thursday, August 18th at 6:00 PM
WHERE: Tara Temple Thai Restaurant, 4001 N. Fairfax Dr., Arlington, VA
Photo via Twitter / Hillary for Virginia
VDOT Awards I-66 Contracts — VDOT has awarded $61.3 million in contracts to build tolling infrastructure on I-66 inside the Beltway. “The work is expected to begin by late summer with all construction completed no later than mid October 2017.” [WTOP]
Stop Arm Camera Enforcement Resuming — After having to pause enforcement and seek a legislative fix in order to issue tickets to violators, Arlington’s school bus stop arm enforcement program will resume July 1. Drivers who drive by a stop sign on a school bus will face an automatic $250 fine. [Arlington County, Arlington Public Schools]
Clinton Opening Arlington Office — Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is reportedly opening a new office at 6035 Wilson Blvd, in the Dominion Hills shopping center. That’s the same shopping center in which American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell was shot and killed in 1967. [Patch]
Local Latino Leaders Talk Trump — At a press conference on Columbia Pike yesterday, former County Board member Walter Tejada said presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump may regret his rhetoric on immigration come November. “In a tight election, the Latino community can decide who wins,” Tejada said. “To Mr. Trump, we want to declare a message that hate will not win.” [Washington Post]
Hernick Calls on Trump to Tone Down Muslim Remarks — Republican congressional candidate Charles Hernick, who’s challenging incumbent Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), wants Donald Trump to tone down his “divisive rhetoric” on Muslims, saying it “won’t help us unite with peace-loving Muslims against our common enemy.” He continued: “We need to stand together against hatred, violence and terrorism.” [InsideNova]
Local Startup Expanding — Fast-growing Arlington-based startup ByteCubed, a government tech consulting firm, is expanding with a new office in Crystal City for its now 150 employees. [Technical.ly DC]
Tired of waiting for county plows to show up in their no-outlet residential street, a group of neighbors in Dominion Hills took matters into their own hands.
We’re told that neighbors banded together to shovel off N. Arlington Mill Drive, near Bon Air Park, all the way to Wilson Blvd.
As of early Tuesday morning, county snow crews had plowed 30 percent of residential streets, with a focus on especially hilly roads and streets near schools.
The incident happened around 9 a.m., at the intersection of N. Madison Street and 9th Road N., in the Dominion Hills neighborhood.
Police say the garbage truck was turning right onto N. Madison Street, but was waiting for a pedestrian to cross the street. A driver in the high-end electric sports sedan apparently became impatient and attempted to go around the truck, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
With the Tesla in the truck’s blindspot, the truck driver proceeded forward and ran into the car, Sternbeck said.
A county worker on the garbage truck was transported to the hospital for “precautionary reasons.” The woman driving the Tesla was determined to be at fault for improper passing but did not receive a traffic citation, according to Sternbeck.
File photo via Twitter
(Updated at 5:55 p.m.) Ashlawn Elementary School is facing a lack of faculty parking after its parking contract with the Dominion Hills Area Recreation Association was not renewed this year.
The contract between Dominion Hills and Ashlawn allowed the school to lease parking spaces in the pool’s parking lot.
Without the renewed contract, Ashlawn Elementary School is facing a shortage of parking with 30 spots for 130 faculty members, according to a PTA statement from Ashlawn PTA President Carlin Schwartz. Currently, teachers are being told to park at the Powhatan Springs Park (6020 Wilson Blvd) and walk over to the school.
“As you can imagine, this will be burdensome to our staff,” Schwartz said.
The decision to not renew the contract was a “difficult” decision, according to a statement from the Board of Directors at Dominion Hills. Trash in the parking lot, delays in payment, increased traffic in the parking lot and “an inordinate amount of time spent by our Resident Manager attempting to enforce the terms of the agreement,” were among the Board’s reasons for not renewing the contract.
The pool also needed the parking lot spaces for the last four weeks of the pool season, which overlap with the beginning of the school year. The frequent use of the lot was also causing wear and tear damage, and the pool was using funds to resurface the lot instead of using them for maintenance of the pool, according to the statement.
“A large part of our decision came down to the fact that we are in the swim club business, not the parking lot business. As such, we need to focus our energies on safety issues, grounds maintenance and infrastructure related to that — a huge year-round task,” the Board of Directors said.
Arlington Public Schools and Ashlawn President Judy Apostolico-Buck asked Dominion Hills to reconsider, but the Board of Directors did not overturn its decision, according to the PTA statement.
“It is unfortunate that APS did not plan for sufficient parking for Ashlawn Elementary School. We strive to be good neighbors with Ashlawn, and have been, particularly through its construction period,” the Board of Directors said. “However, a renewal of the prior parking agreement is not in the best interests of DHARA.”
Schwartz and the PTA parents are encouraging Ashlawn families to call or email the school board with any concerns or questions. Suggestions for parking can be emailed to Schwartz or Apostolico-Buck.
“Ashlawn families, staff and neighbors have been incredibly patient, gracious and supportive through the many challenges that the construction process has created and it is greatly appreciated. I hope we can face this newest challenge with the same with mindset,” Schwartz said.
Ashlawn Elementary was not notified about trash issues in the parking lot, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said.
The incident happened just after 5:00 p.m., at the private Dominion Hills Area Recreation Association pool at 6000 Wilson Blvd.
An 8 or 9 year old boy accidentally swallowed water while swimming and began struggling in the water, according to an Arlington County Fire Department spokesman. A lifeguard spotted the boy in distress and he was underwater by the time lifeguards reached him.
When the boy was pulled from the water, he had a pulse but was unconscious and not breathing, the spokesman said. Lifeguards performed rescue breathing and were eventually able to revive the boy, we’re told.
Paramedics arrived and transported the boy to Virginia Hospital Center for evaluation.
John Aldonis, the pool’s manager, declined to identify the lifeguards who saved the boy’s life but said they are local high school and college students.
“They did a great job,” Aldonis said. “They did everything correctly and followed the Red Cross protocols.”
Aldonis said this was the first time in recent memory that paramedics had to be called to the Dominion Hills pool for a life-threatening emergency.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Another big battle is brewing in Bluemont and this one is not about bocce.
Wilson Blvd was recently repaved and restriped between the Safeway and Bon Air Park, so that instead of four lanes of traffic, it is now has two lanes of traffic, a turn lane and two bike lanes. The change seems to have brought about two separate realities.
To hear one group of residents tell it, traffic is flowing as normal but families can finally walk down the narrow sidewalks along Wilson Blvd without the fear of imminent vehicle-induced death.
To hear the other group tell it, the loss of a lane in each direction is causing a traffic nightmare that’s adding 20-40 minutes to Wilson Blvd commutes during the morning and evening rush hours. Their tales of woe are relatively consistent.
“I had the displeasure of commuting westbound on Wilson Blvd Thursday [May 28] at 6 p.m.,” driver Alexi Bustillo told ARLnow.com via email. “It took me 20 minutes from Glebe and Wilson to Manchester and Wilson (1 mile distance).”
“Morning traffic backs up from the light by Bon Air Park up the hill… with dangerous merging,” said Josh Laughner, via Twitter. It’s “dangerous [because you can’t] see traffic stopped at bottom of [the] hill. At night it’s pretty bad where the merging starts by Pupatella. I never had any backups morning/night when it was two lanes all the way through.”
“The message boards of [the Boulevard Manor and Dominion Hills neighborhoods, to the west of the restriping] are full of the comments,” a tipster said. “Many complaints about trip times during morning and evening rush hours taking 20-40 minutes on the stretch between George Mason and Manchester.”
ARLnow.com visited the stretch during a morning and evening rush hour this week and didn’t observe any abnormally heavy traffic. Supporters of the restriping say, essentially, that it’s the answer to their pedestrian prayers and they don’t know what the critics are talking about.
“We are so grateful to Arlington County for these improvements!” said Ed Fendley, co-chair of the Bluemont Civic Association Sidewalk Safety Task Force. “The restriped roadway is working great. Traffic is flowing really well. Fewer drivers are speeding. When I’m driving, it is now easier for me to turn left onto Wilson because I can use the center turn lane to stage my turn.”
“It feels so much safer to walk and bicycle,” Fendley continued. “For the time ever, my kids and I bicycled on Wilson Boulevard to go to La Union restaurant. The road is now safer and more accessible for everyone — just as we had hoped.”
“I just want to say that for the first time in the 23 years I’ve lived on Kensington Street, my family and I have been able to comfortably walk down Wilson Boulevard,” said Chris Healey, Fendley’s co-chair. “I can’t express how great it is to be able to walk to Safeway and the many great neighborhood restaurants and shops without worrying about being clipped by a passing car or bus. This is a giant step toward Bluemont becoming a true community. We look forward to phase two and we are confident that the momentum from the success of this project will take us there sooner rather than later.”
(Phase II of the project, which will take place should the county be satisfied with the flow of traffic and pedestrians on the reconfigured roadway, will include wider sidewalks and other improvements.)
“For the first time in two decades, kids can walk or bike safely to Ashlawn school and the pools on Wilson Blvd,” said Tom Carter, a 21-year Dominion Hills resident. “The walkable, bikeable stretch of Wilson should be extended from Seven Corners to Clarendon. Families should be able to walk and bike through the heart of Arlington.”
Three people were hurt when a staircase collapsed, sending them plummeting into a 10 foot hole.
The incident happened around 6:45 p.m., outside a home on the 900 block of N. Madison Street, in the Dominion Hills neighborhood.
Three people — two adults and one child — suffered non-life-threatening injuries when the concrete staircase in front of the home collapsed under their feet and they fell into the hole. The Arlington County Fire Department technical rescue team extricated the victims and the two adults were transported to a local hospital.
Fox 5 has additional photos of the incident. The station reported that the victims were carrying groceries at the time of the collapse.
A 24-year-old Arlington native has opened a new kind of food shop in the Dominion Hills neighborhood.
Taste by Katie opened yesterday at 6017 Wilson Blvd, in the Dominion Hills Centre. The store focuses on reheatable meals to bring home to the family.
Chef Katie Gilman, who has operated Taste as a home-based catering and personal chef business since February 2013, has also worked as a banquet chef at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View hotel.
Taste will specialize in “seasonal ingredients and global flavors,” and will offer vegetarian and gluten-free options. Gilman is also offering catering for parties and business events, and offers “happy hour to go,” with selections of appetizers.
“Taste is meeting the needs of busy people who don’t have time to cook but appreciate sitting down to a gourmet meal once they get home,” Gilman said in a press release. “I’ll also work with customers to provide specialized meals that meet their needs.”
Taste offers 10 percent off meals that are pre-ordered online by 5:00 p.m. Fridays for the next week (Tuesday-Sunday). Meals can also be picked up at Taste’s storefront, which is open Tuesday-Friday from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. and on weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.