Morning Notes

ACFD Vaxed to the Max — “Of the public safety departments surveyed by the I-Team, the Arlington County Fire Department has the most vaccinated, with 82 percent of its roughly 360 employees receiving the shot. Alexandria’s fire department, Frederick County, Maryland’s fire department and Montgomery County police are close behind, reporting about 70 percent of their members vaccinated.” [NBC 4]

Law Enforcement Memorial Day — Today starting at 8 a.m. “[t]he Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will host a virtual Observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor and pay tribute to the memory of Arlington’s seven fallen law enforcement officers.” [ACPD]

Covid Testing for APS Athletes — “Beginning the week of May 10, APS will begin providing daily free COVID-19 testing for student athletes. The testing is optional and will be conducted at the three comprehensive high schools with written parent/guardian consent. These efforts are put in place to prevent and mitigate transmission of COVID-19 among athletes.” [Arlington Public Schools]

DJO Grad to Kick for UNC — “Bishop O’Connell High School graduate and Great Falls resident Ethan Torres played four years of college football for Bucknell University as a place-kicker, and now will play a fifth season this coming fall for University of North Carolina at Charlotte as a graduate transfer student.” [Sun Gazette]

Runners Enjoy Rainy Crystal City 5K — “They lined up in waves, socially distanced for The Great Inflatable Race: Pacers 5k in National Landing. Only 250 runners instead of the normal 1,500… ‘This is one small step toward normalization,’ says runner Ian Squires.” [WJLA]

Jeopardy Asks Arlington Question — “We made Jeopardy! again. From last Friday. Category was A Whopp’ington’ of a City.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Mosque Knife Incident — “A Falls Church man is under arrest and faces charges after Fairfax County, Virginia, police said he pointed a knife at several people in a Seven Corners mosque.” [WTOP, Annandale Blog]

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Morning Notes

County Opening Free Testing Site Today — “Arlington County is opening a no-cost, no-appointment, COVID-19 testing kiosk in the parking lot at Courthouse Plaza in partnership with Curative, which operates two additional sites in the County. The kiosk will be open seven days a week from 12-8 p.m., starting Tuesday, April 13.” [Arlington County]

Fmr. Arlington Waiter Now a Real Estate Kingpin — “In 2013, Heider, then 25, was working at an Italian restaurant in Shirlington when his manager became the assistant to a local real-estate agent. When this agent moved to Washington Fine Properties, Heider’s former manager brought him on to help. As the assistant to the assistant, Heider worked without any base pay, making money only when he brought in referrals. At night, he waited tables at the Crystal City Morton’s.” [Washingtonian]

Kitchen Fire at Pike Apartment BuildingUpdated at 9:10 a.m. — Arlington County firefighters responded to a kitchen fire at the Dominion Towers apartments on Columbia Pike last night. No injuries were reported. [Twitter, Twitter]

Marymount Students Volunteering at Vax Clinic — “Since the start of the spring semester, students in Marymount University’s Nursing program have been using their classroom skills to serve as vaccinators in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic… [The students] are often on the team of registered nurses and EMS personnel who are on duty for vaccinations at the Lubber Run Community Center in Arlington.” [Marymount University]

YHS Finishes Football Season on Win Streak — “For the Yorktown Patriots, the shortened seven-game high-school football season was like two campaigns. There was the 0-2 beginning when the Patriots lost badly and struggled in all aspects of the game. Then there was the 5-0 finish, when Yorktown was vastly improved in all areas… Yorktown capped its season with a 24-15 victory over the T.C. Williams Titans.” [Sun Gazette]

Last Call: Vote in the Spring 2021 Arlies — Today is the last day to vote for your favorite local places, people and organizations in the spring edition of ARLnow’s Arlies awards. [SurveyMonkey]

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Morning Notes

Manager: Say No to Rouse Historic Designation — “With much of the physical infrastructure on the site now a pile of rubble, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz wants County Board members to throw in the towel on designating parts of the Rouse estate parcel as a local historic district… While recommending that the County Board reject the historic designation, Schwartz also proposes that staff be directed to come back by October with a report on potential ways the site could be incorporated into Arlington’s historic-preservation and/or affordable-housing efforts.” [Sun Gazette]

Police Looking for Missing ManUpdated at 8:45 a.m. —  The Fairfax County Police helicopter assisted with the search for a missing Arlington man Sunday afternoon. Early his morning, ACPD announced: “[The missing man] has been safely located. Thank you to everyone who assisted by sharing this information.” [Twitter, NBC 4]

DCA Noise Meeting Tonight — “An online public meeting on April 5 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. will discuss aircraft noise north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study meeting, to be hosted by Montgomery County (Md.) Council member Andrew Friedson and Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey, is a follow-up of a meeting held last year by those localities.” [Sun Gazette]

Amazon Cites Va. As Example for Voting Rights — “UPDATE: @Amazon says it opposes state efforts to limit voting rights, urges states to follow Virginia’s lead and make it easier to vote.” [Twitter]

Wakefield Makes Football Playoffs — “For the second straight season and third time in four campaigns, the Wakefield Warriors have qualified for the football region playoffs. Wakefield (4-1, 3-1) clinched a 6D North Region Tournament berth with a 13-0 home victory over the Falls Church Jaguars on April 1 in National District action. It was the team’s final regular-season contest in this condensed high-school schedule.” [Sun Gazette]

Reminder: Water Switch in Effect Today — “It’s… that time of year again: the time when your tap water starts to smell a bit like a swimming pool… On Monday, April 5 the disinfectant used in Arlington County’s drinking water will be temporarily switched from chloramine to chlorine.” [ARLnow]

Nearby: New Store Coming to Bailey’s Xroads — “Five Below is moving into the former Pier One space at the Bailey’s Crossroads Shopping Center. Pier One closed in early 2020. Five Below specializes in items for teens and tweens mostly priced at $5 or less. The stores feature toys, snacks, cosmetics, room décor, sports items, accessories, party supplies, and $5 t-shirts.” [Annandale Blog]

Photo courtesy Christina Schnoor

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A group of players and parents from Wakefield High School are speaking out about an alleged racist incident at Marshall High School (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

A group of Wakefield High School football players and their parents are contesting game suspensions and calling for accountability among athletic officials in response to reports of racism on the field.

The athletes say they endured being called “boy” and the N-word, and one student was spat on, during a football game on March 5 at Marshall High School.

On Thursday, Arlington Public Schools issued statements confirming the reports of racial slurs being used. Fairfax County Public Schools said it conducted an investigation and is working on a plan for restorative justice, but these reports are being contested by members of the Marshall community.

Senior Lukai Hatcher, one of the students who posted a widely-shared account of what happened on social media, tells ARLnow the taunting — which built on similar name-calling during basketball season — started early in the game.

“We complained to the ref, who did nothing, and the coaches, who couldn’t do anything,” he said. “Of course, if you leave something untreated, it’s going to grow.”

At the end of the game, Hatcher said a Marshall player spit at him, and he lunged for the player. This launched a brawl between the two teams and resulted in three Wakefield students and one Marshall student receiving three-game suspensions.

“We only got a reaction out of the refs when we did something to protect ourselves,” he said.

His mother, Lydia Hatcher, said that following the game she was in contact with the football coach, the school athletic director and the principal. She told them and Virginia High School League that she disagreed with the suspension on the grounds that her son was defending himself.

“My kids are used to being bumped a little harder, but they’re not used to being called the N-word,” Hatcher said. “If I had been close enough, I would’ve taken my son off the field.”

Both schools worked together to reduce the suspensions for students, said Mike McCall, the director of communications for VHSL.

“As soon as VHSL staff was made aware of incidents surrounding this game, the video of the game was reviewed,” he said. “Additionally, all those within the authority level of the VHSL were involved in conversations surrounding the concerns associated with the game. The schools worked collaboratively together with the VHSL during the entire process.”

Arlington Public Schools confirmed it has been in contact with multiple officials since the game.

“From the beginning, APS and Wakefield officials have been in contact with Marshall High School, VHSL leadership, staff at the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association, and Fairfax County Public Schools about what transpired and the lack of action by the officials after repeated attempts by players and coaches to alert them to the behavior,” the school system said in a statement. “Staff was working behind the scenes to get the Wakefield suspension overturned.”

For Lydia Hatcher, however, the decision was inequitable.

“Had Lukai, as a black young male, spit on someone who was not a person of color, there would have been charges pressed,” she said. “A little slap on the wrist for one game is not acceptable punishment.”

The parents have launched a petition that currently has nearly 5,000 signatures, demanding an apology from Marshall and from VHSL, asking for the suspension on the Wakefield players to be reversed, and mandatory diversity and inclusion training for local athletes, coaches and officials.

Late Friday afternoon, the Arlington branch of the NAACP issued a statement in support of the “#PlayFairNow” petition, decrying “a culture of hate towards black students at Arlington Public Schools with no accountability for bad actors.”

“We’re trying to fight the pandemic, work careers, help kids with schooling, and we have to fight racism,” said Monique Brown-Bryant, whose son Kevin Robinson was on the field that night. “It’s a separate pandemic.”

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(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) Players on the Wakefield High School varsity football team were called racial slurs during a recent game against Marshall High School, an Arlington Public Schools spokesman confirms.

Students Lukai Hatcher and Izaiah Lang took to social media last night (Wednesday) to post about the events they say transpired during the away game on Friday, March 5.

“Me and my teammates were called racial slurs, taunted, and even spit on by Marshall players,” they said in a widely-shared joint statement posted on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere. “We also experienced unfair treatment by each of the refs and were harassed from the sidelines by coaches and Marshall parents.”

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia confirmed a portion of the allegations.

“An incident did occur between Marshall and Wakefield high schools where Marshall players used racial slurs at the Wakefield football team,” Bellavia tells ARLnow.

“The Wakefield administration as well as other APS officials have been in contact with Marshall High School, VHSL officials and the referee association about this incident,” Bellavia said. “APS administrators have been meeting regularly with the Wakefield team and parents to provide support since the incident occurred.”

Game footage shows a fight breaking out between the teams. APS confirmed that three Wakefield students were given three-game suspensions as a result of the fights, but the sanctions have since been knocked down to one-game suspensions per Virginia High School League guidelines.

Wakefield ended up losing the game to Marshall, 19-18.

Hatcher and Lang alleged in their statement that what happened on March 5 has happened before.

“Marshall High School’s athletic teams have been known to demonstrate a culture of racism and unsportsmanlike behavior,” including foul play on the basketball court, they said. “We are shining the light on the continuing culture of tolerance for unjust and discriminatory practices in sports for minority athletes and seeking accountability in support of change.”

“We as a team complained to the refs all game about the way that we were being treated yet the flags were consistently thrown on us and even our coaches,” Hatcher and Lang added. “We should not be punished for defending ourselves and each other especially because during the entire game the refs, [whose] job it is to ensure each game is fair and who were supposed to protect and defend us, did not.”

Principal Chris Willmore said in a letter to families Thursday afternoon that “the adults who were responsible failed” the Wakefield players.

“The administrative team and I are outraged by the blatant acts of racism our players were subjected to during the game and that the officials did nothing to intervene despite our urging and even after our coaches signaled them to the behavior multiple times during the contest, allowing the situation to escalate,” he wrote. “This is unacceptable.”

“All coaches have been instructed to leave the field/court immediately if our student-athletes are subject to racist, bigoted behaviors. Our student-athletes will not be put into a position like this again,” Willmore continued, adding that there have been “other incidents that we’ve have experienced in the past.”

APS Superintendent Francisco Durán also issued a statement Thursday afternoon.

“Our leadership and School Board are calling on VHSL and all parties involved in extracurricular activities to reform and change their practices to ensure our schools and athletic events are free of racism, bigotry, hate speech and unsportsmanlike conduct,” he said, in part. “APS encourages all students and staff to continue to stand up and call out acts of racism, hate speech and other forms of discrimination when they see them.”

In a statement, Fairfax County Public Schools said it “does not accept acts of intolerance” and has “expectations of behavior in our students and staff.”

“At FCPS, our primary responsibility is the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Every student must understand the value of appreciating each other’s differences, extending common courtesy, and treating each other with respect,” the statement said. “We must all be committed to do better.”

The administration conducted a thorough investigation involving VHSL, officials, staff, players and families from both teams, according to the statement. The school system said it is working with the school, FCPS leadership and coaches from both teams to develop a plan for restorative justice.

In speaking out publicly, Hatcher and Lang said they were pressing for change.

“This isn’t new and enough is enough!” they wrote.

The full statement from Wakefield High School’s principal is below.

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(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) A Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman was arrested in Arlington over the weekend.

Broderick Washington, a second-year player on the Ravens, allegedly damaged five vehicles with a metal object at the Dolley Madison Towers apartment complex (2300 24th Road S.) early Sunday morning. He’s also accused of damaging an apartment door and window.

“At approximately 4:20 a.m. on March 14, police were dispatched to multiple reports of a male suspect breaking into vehicles with a metal object,” Arlington County police said in a crime report Monday. “Upon arrival, officers located a suspect matching the description provided by the reporting parties and took him into custody without incident.”

“The investigation determined the suspect allegedly damaged five vehicles and destroyed the entry door and window to a residential building,” the crime report continues. “Broderick Washington, 24, of Baltimore, MD, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor Destruction of Property (x5), felony Destruction of Property, and Tampering with a Vehicle.”

An ACPD spokeswoman declined to provide more information on the incident.

“To ensure the integrity of the prosecution, there are no additional details to release at this time beyond what is included in the daily crime report,” ACPD’s Ashley Savage told ARLnow.

Washington was released on bail and is set for a court hearing on Wednesday, March 31, according to court records.

The 24-year-old defensive tackle was drafted by the Ravens in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft, after a standout college career at Texas Tech. Washington was not a major presence on Ravens’ defensive line last year, but is being mentioned as a breakout candidate for the 2021 season.

The team issued a brief statement about the arrest around noon today: “We are aware of the matter involving Broderick Washington. We have spoken with Broderick about this matter and will continue to monitor the situation.”

Photo courtesy ACPD

Morning Notes

Quarter of Students Staying at Home — “Students in Pre-K through second grade returned to Arlington County classrooms Tuesday, a step that Superintendent Francisco Duran says the school system is prepared to take on. Roughly 75% of the student body took the in-person learning option, while 25% will continue to learn virtually. Staff and students who return will complete a daily screening.” [WTOP]

More Commercial Burglaries Reported — Two more local businesses have been victimized among a spate of commercial burglaries. Arlington County police yesterday reported that business on the 5500 block of Columbia Pike and the 4200 block of N. Pershing Drive in Buckingham were broken into. In both cases, thieves stole cash registers and an undisclosed amount of cash. Police did not reveal the businesses involved; there are two on that block of N. Pershing Drive: El Paso Cafe and Popeye’s. [ACPD]

Wakefield Football Undefeated So Far — “The Wakefield Warriors rallied from a 14-0 deficit to defeat the Edison Eagles, 34-14, in National District high-school football action on Feb. 27… Wakefield stays undefeated on [the] gridiron.” [InsideNova]

W&OD Trail Work Taking Place — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “[This] afternoon: W&OD Trail asphalt repairs in Bluemont Park just south of Wilson Boulevard. Will take about 4 hours. Flaggers on hand to direct users onto nearby Four Mile Run Trail. (Rescheduled from earlier this week.)” [Twitter]

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A belated 2020 high school football season is getting underway, but a number of Arlington Public Schools parents are awaiting a plan permitting limited spectators.

Last fall, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam approved a revised schedule for high school sports that allowed winter sports to start in December and rescheduled fall-season sports for February through early May.

Arlington Public Schools football players had their first official practice on Feb. 4 ahead of their first games on Monday, Feb. 22 — yes, high school football on a Monday night — but so far, there is no word on whether people can attend their games.

“Staff are working on these plans now,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow in an email.

Yorktown football parent Diane Boyle said in an email that she is hoping a plan for spectators will be announced at the upcoming School Board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18.

“The stands are rarely at capacity even in non-pandemic times,” Boyle said. “I’m certain we can safely have limited spectators, and hopeful APS announces a workable plan soon.”

Boyle is one of nearly 150 parents who have written to APS, urging the school system to allow two masked, socially distanced spectators per player. Northam allowed this ratio for outdoor sports in a December executive order that also stipulates capacity cannot exceed 30% of a venue.

The Yorktown parents pleaded for action to allow spectators for the sake of students. More from their letter:

“Students’ need for this sort of athletic and emotional outlet is far more pressing during Covid than in ordinary times. Our students have already suffered months of deprivation, isolation, loss, and related mental health challenges. For many seniors on the team, this season will be their last opportunity to play organized football. In addition, many need sports to open the door to college admission and scholarships. In short, the players and coaches need — and have earned — the opportunity to play.”

In a similar letter from 70 Wakefield families, parents said APS has “the good fortune” of having football stadiums with ample capacity. They added that other recreational sports and other school systems are permitting spectators.

“Many of us have seen these rules successfully implemented for months with outdoor baseball, soccer, and travel and other sports,” their letter said.

Last November, APS reversed course on a decision not to allow winter sports after hearing from students and parents. All but two winter sports started their seasons in December.

Image via W-L Football/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Confusion Over CVS Vaccine Reservations — “The confusion began early Tuesday morning, with people reaching out to ABC7 to express their frustration over the COVID-19 vaccine registration process at CVS pharmacies in Virginia. ‘They didn’t do what they said they were going to do, and it’s just really frustrating,’ said Roxanne Grandis, who’s been trying to make vaccine appointments for her elderly parents.” [WJLA]

Some Kudos For County Vaccination Effort — “Virginia’s been struggling for weeks to administer vaccine doses. Out of the 1.38 million doses the Commonwealth received, officials only injected 1.1 million. That’s roughly 80%. Meanwhile, Arlington County is setting the standard at 97%. How did they do it? With other areas struggling, how did Arlington Public Health succeed on all levels? Local officials say it’s been a team effort.” [The Dogwood]

Chase Young’s Arlington Connection — “Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young, whose father was in law enforcement, testified before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, expressing support for police reform… Young, named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year on Saturday, grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, but his father spent 22 years as a police officer in Arlington, Virginia.” [ESPN]

Arlington Man Running for Governor — “Another Northern Virginia executive is joining the Republican race for governor. Peter Doran of Arlington said Tuesday he is seeking this year’s GOP gubernatorial nomination. It is his first run for office.” [Associated Press]

Arlington Dems Eye High Rises — “Mid-rise and high-rise living represents a large swath of the Arlington population, and ‘many of them are inaccessible to outside groups,’ said Carol Fontein, who heads the robust precinct-operations efforts of Arlington Democrats. As a result, the party aims to recruit those living in multi-family complexes to help with outreach – within the limits set by owners of the properties.” [InsideNova]

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Arlington County is asking residents how and when they use athletic fields.

The County’s Public Spaces Master Plan, adopted in April 2019, calls for a public survey every five years to garner feedback to determine how and when Arlingtonians use the available athletic fields.

The collected data will be used to update the permit process, availability of fields, and who has access when.

“We have a finite amount of park spaces,” Jerry Solomon, Community Engagement Manager for the Department of Parks and Recreation, writes to ARLnow in an email. “Our goal is to ensure we are using them as efficiently and effectively as possible. We need to determine if we are offering field spaces at times that people can best access them.”

Fields for adult soccer leagues, for example, are most needed outside of typical working hours. Baseball diamonds for Little League should be accessible when the players are, like on weekends or after school.

This survey will help make sure this is the case, plus provide additional data that may not be as self-explanatory.

The survey specifically asks about activity start and end times for different age groups as well, like if kids 9 and youngers should end their field use prior sundown on weekdays and who should have access to lighted fields.

In total, Arlington has 96 athletic fields — a mix of rectangular fields (35), diamond fields (42), and a combination of the two (19). That can be further broken down into lighted (37) and not lighted fields (59) as well as natural grass (80) and synthetic turf fields (16).

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the fields that have the most use on an individual basis are the lighted, synthetic turf fields. On average, each one of those fields gets more than 2,100 hours of play per year. This is compared to an average of 700 hours per non-lighted, natural grass field.

For years, which fields got lights has been a source of community contention.

Athletic field use in Arlington is often not a free-for-all or on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nearly all of the fields are either only accessible to permit holders or priority is given to permit holders.

Only six of the 96 athletic fields in Arlington are available as drop-in fields, or “community fields.” Even those, though, can be reserved for scheduled programs or practices.

That has drawn the ire of some residents, like those who live near Pentagon City and want to see one or both of the softball diamonds at Virginia Highlands Park opened up for community use.

There’s even a tiered priority system for the allocation of permits, which was first recommended in 2016 due to an “inequity” that existed in how fields were allocated.

Arlington Public Schools are given first priority, then county-organized non-profit youth sport leagues, then adult leagues, then for-profit sports leagues, and, finally, individual rentals or other organizations.

Some fields also have agreements with local universities for their use.

All of this, plus Arlington’s growing population, is resulting in heavy use and demand for athletic fields. According to the PSMP, the county could need an additional 11 rectangular and 2 diamond fields by 2035 to maintain the current levels of use and access.

The hope is that the survey and public feedback will allow for better, more efficient, and more fair use of the limited field space.

This survey will be open until the end of the month, says Solomon, at which point DPR will review and report findings to the Public Spaces Master Plan Implementation Committee in the spring.

There could be more opportunities to provide feedback come the spring and summer, Solomon noted.

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Morning Notes

ACPD Salutes Fallen Officer — “ACPD Officers honored fallen @CapitolPolice Officer Brian Sicknick as his procession traveled through Arlington County. In Valor, There is Hope.” [Twitter, Twitter]

M.J. Stewart Makes Splash in Upset Win — “Former Yorktown HS standout M.J. Stewart was one of NBC’s players of the game in the Cleveland Browns’ playoff upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight.” [Twitter]

National Award for County Naturalist — “Alonso Abugattas, natural resources manager for Arlington County, VA, received a Regional Environmental Champion award at the 2020 Natural Latinos conference.” [Bay Journal]

Cristol to Chair NVTC Again — “Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol will go another round as chair of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) for 2021.” [InsideNova]

McAuliffe Picks Up Local Support — “Four of the seven members of Arlington’s legislative delegation, including all three state senators, have announced their support for Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s bid for governor. McAuliffe ‘has the bold vision and proven track record we need to push Virginia forward,’ said state Sen. Adam Ebbin.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Fairfax Vaccinating Teachers — “Starting as early as Saturday, Jan. 16, the Fairfax health department has partnered with Inova to vaccinate an estimated 40,000 teachers and staff of public and private schools and childcare programs across the health district.” [InsideNova]

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