New video and audio is shedding additional light on the controversial encounter between Arlington police officers and a Black photographer in the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood.
Bodycam footage of the Dec. 21 encounter and audio of a neighbor’s call to police, which prompted the incident, were released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Arlington branch of the NAACP. The media was shared tonight with ARLnow.
During the call, an unidentified female neighbor tells police that the photographer, who was at the time sitting in his parked BMW, was taking photos of the gate to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, as well as “neighbors and people that are walking by.”
“We confronted him and he just wouldn’t engage… he’s just sitting there taking pictures,” the caller says. “I’m not sure if that’s illegal but it’s kind of creepy.”
The caller later reports that the photographer was “smiling and walking down the street, taking more pictures,” and then “engaging with a lady,” adding that “they apparently know each other.” She also noted that he had a “camera with a large lens.”
The man in question was Marlon Crutchfield, a professional photographer who’s retired from the military. He was hired by a family on the block to take holiday photos.
In a Dec. 23 Facebook post, Crutchfield said he was confronted by a neighbor — apparently the caller’s husband — but declined to answer his questions.
“Over the years I’ve had several run-ins with nosy neighbors concerned that a Black man was parked in their neighborhood,” he wrote. ” Well… the other day I was in Arlington parked waiting for an appointment when a man came over and asked me if I needed any help, of course I didn’t. I informed the gentleman that I didn’t need any assistance. Honestly — I was offended. Every Black person￼ knows what this means.”
“After the gentleman didn’t get the response he expected, he reached out to a few other neighbors one of them called the police,” Crutchfield wrote.
Bodycam footage released by the Arlington County Police Department shows three ACPD officers and three military police officers responding to the scene after the call. One Arlington officer knocks on the door of the house in which Crutchfield was shooting photos and asks to speak with him.
(Arlington police had just implemented body-worn cameras the week before the encounter.)
During the four-minute encounter, Crutchfield insists that, contrary to what the “very nosy neighbor” told police, he was just holding his camera and wasn’t taking photos of the base. He briefly flashes the officer an ID card — implied to be a military ID card, but edited out of the video — and says he knows better than taking photos of the military base.
“I’m offended,” Crutchfield says to the officer. “I’m at work… you’re interrupting my job.”
The officer asks the photographer, who is still holding his camera, to present identification.
“This is very racist, and you should know better,” Crutchfield says in response, refusing the request. Eventually, the homeowner also begins talking to officers, saying that “he’s with me” and agreeing that the call to police was “racist.”
(Updated at 11 a.m.) The Arlington County Police Department says the officers who questioned a Black man for taking photos in the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood acted properly and professionally.
The Dec. 21 incident, which sparked headlines and a strong condemnation from the Arlington branch of the NAACP, happened after police were called to the neighborhood by someone who found real estate photographer Marlon Crutchfield to be suspicious.
In a Facebook post, Crutchfield said he was confronted by “nosy neighbors,” who then called police when he declined to explain why he was taking photos. Several officers arrived and, in a brief interaction that was video recorded, Crutchfield refuses the officers’ request to hand over an ID. Shortly after that, the officers appear to leave.
In response to a series of questions posed by ARLnow, a police department spokeswoman explained the series of events leading to the encounter, and defended the officers’ actions and the need to respond the call, which was placed by someone only identified as “a community member.”
“At approximately 10:35 a.m. on December 21, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person and vehicle in the area of Southgate Road and South Orme Street,” ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark said. “The reporting party advised dispatch that the male subject had been taking photos of the Southgate entrance to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, and people walking provided additional information that the subject had left the area of the entrance and entered a nearby residence.”
Clark said the response was justified based on the information provided to police.
Military installations are considered high value targets and events around the world, to include the events of September 11, 2001, have shown this to be true. If someone is taking photos of these areas, it is certainly cause for concern, and is worthy of reporting to law enforcement for investigation based upon guidelines published by the United States Department of Homeland Security. The area by the base is posted with signs prohibiting photography and, for this reason, the base was notified of the report the department had received.
The Department has a responsibility to respond to calls for service, investigate the circumstances, and determine appropriate action. Dispatched calls for service are based upon preliminary information provided by the reporting party and follow-up investigations may identify additional, or different, information than initially provided.
We recognize the emotional impact this incident has had on the involved individual The Department is committed to the principle that all individuals will be treated with dignity and respect and we will work with the community to achieve balance between ensuring the safety of our community and the ambiguity involving what may be considered suspicious.
Asked if officers should have done anything differently, ACPD defended their actions and professionalism.
The Department stands by its response to this incident. In order to ensure public safety within our community, officers have a duty to respond to dispatched calls for service and fully investigate the circumstances surrounding them. Efforts to address crime in our community are most effective when they involve strong collaboration and partnerships between law enforcement and the communities and citizens they serve.
While the behaviors described to ACPD were considered suspicious in nature given all of the circumstances, it was determined that no local crime had been committed, officers cleared the call without taking further action, and the entire interaction with the individual lasted under four minutes.
We appreciate that what constitutes suspicious behavior can be ambiguous, but we must work together to ensure police are notified of suspicious behaviors that could represent a threat to our community, while at the same time ensuring that the focus remains on the behaviors of a person and nothing else. […]
Our officers conducted themselves in a professional manner and came to the determination that no local crimes had occurred.
The Arlington NAACP, however, said in response that the police department should have investigated the origin of the initial complaint, which they claim was embellished in order to provoke a police response.
“ACPD should have started with the alleged witnesses before harassing a professional photographer and embarrassing him by pulling him out of the home where he was an invited guest and interrogating him in front of his client,” the organization said to ARLnow, in a statement.
“The police asked for the victim’s ID before even explaining why they were there or even asking him if he was near the base or what his activities were before entering the clients home,” the organization said. “That is sloppy police work guaranteed to elicit an emotionally charged response. Asking for ID first and only is a racially laden request in the Black community.”
The Arlington NAACP is decrying an incident in which a Black man was questioned by Arlington County police last week for photographing a house.
The incident happened on Monday, Dec. 21, in the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood, near the Air Force Memorial. A video and an account of what happened was posted on Facebook and first reported by Blue Virginia.
Marlon Crutchfield, a professional photographer who specializes in real estate, was photographing a client’s home when, according to his post, a “nosy neighbor” started to question what he was doing.
“A man came over and asked me if I needed any help, of course I didn’t,” Crutchfield wrote. “I informed the gentleman that I didn’t need any assistance. Honestly — I was offended. Every black person￼ knows what this means… I am retired from the US Army with a Bronze Star. I am also a former Federal Law Enforcement Officer. I’ve taught my kids through the years to be good citizens to be good people in general but it seems as though things change￼ slowly.”
Crutchfield said police started showing up after the encounter, apparently called by another neighbor. He posted a video of the police encounter, during which he declines an officer’s request to hand over identification.
“Have you seen me commit a crime? Has anybody seen me commit a crime?” he asks.
The homeowner with whom he was working can be heard questioning why police were called and calling the situation “very racist.” Eventually the officers leave as Crutchfield goes back inside the home.
“Have a great day, sir,” one of the officers says.
“NEVER have I been so embarrassed. It was hurtful and demeaning in so many ways,” Crutchfield later recounted on Facebook. “It could’ve gotten a lot worse… we’ve seen this many times as of late. It’s time for change.”
Photography is not a crime, though police in Arlington frequently respond to calls about “suspicious” people seen photographing buildings in various parts of the county. The Arlington branch of the NAACP said there’s no reason why multiple police vehicles would need to respond to such a “nonsensical call,” as happened last week.
“We are looking into this incident,” the local NAACP branch said in a press release. “We spoke with the citizen who recorded the video and the Acting Chief of Police. Additionally, we have shared the public video with selected officials of the Arlington County Board, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, three elected leaders of the Virginia General Assembly representing Arlington County, and the County Manager.”
“We have also issued a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request for all documents and police recordings related to this incident,” the organization added.
Additionally, NAACP Branch President Julius Spain, Sr. and First Vice President Kent Carter issued a statement about the incident, saying that “it is a time to stop dispatching police to calls like these.”
“It is not a crime to be Black,” Spain and Carter say. The full statement is below.
A major project to add 70 acres to Arlington National Cemetery while reconfiguring the eastern end of Columbia Pike is inching forward.
The cemetery’s southern expansion project will add about 60,000 burial sites, across 37 acres of new burial plots and an above-ground columbarium, allowing the cemetery to continue military burials through the 2050s. It will also bring the Air Force Memorial within the cemetery grounds, and add a parking garage across Columbia Pike.
The federal government acquired county-owned land for the expansion via an eminent domain suit this summer. In exchange, the feds are paying for the reconfiguration of Columbia Pike and the creation of a new S. Nash Street in the tiny Foxcroft Heights neighborhood adjacent to the Air Force Memorial — a $60 million project.
“The expansion project will benefit Arlington County and its residents by, among other things, burying overhead power lines and incorporating the Air Force Memorial and surrounding vacant land into Arlington National Cemetery,” the federal government said in June. “The project will transform Columbia Pike from South Oak Street to Washington Boulevard by re-aligning and widening it. The project includes streetscape zones with trees on both sides of Columbia Pike, adding a new dedicated bike path, and widening pedestrian walkways.”
Separately, the federal government is also planning a visitor center for the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon, across from the expanded portion of the cemetery closer to the Pentagon, as well as a new trail along the cemetery border from Foxcroft Heights to Memorial Drive.
The National Capital Planning Commission discussed the cemetery expansion plan at a review meeting last week. A presentation that preceded the discussion included a number of renderings of the project, as seen above.
The commission largely approved of the plan, but asked the Army to “submit a revised design for the Air Force Memorial vehicular entrance gate to address the unwelcoming experience created by the 60-foot line of bollards and fencing.”
A substantial portion of Arlington’s Foxcroft Heights neighborhood is listed for sale for $11 million.
The properties between 901 and 925 S. Orme Street — a block-long row of brick houses bordering Columbia Pike and across from the Sheraton Pentagon City hotel — are touted in the listing as a “tear down” redevelopment opportunity.
It’s currently the most expensive real estate listing in Arlington.
The listing suggests the tiny neighborhood near the Air Force Memorial is primed for “integrated gentrification” with the planned reconfiguration of eastern Columbia Pike with the expansion of Arlington National Cemetery, not to mention Amazon’s nearby HQ2.
“The re-development of 901-925 Block can and will be simultaneous with the planned redevelopment and expansion of Arlington National Cemetery and the most eastern corridor of Columbia Pike, allowing for vast and integrated gentrification of the area,” the listing says. “It is an exceptional opportunity to revitalize and rebuild a part of Arlington County that has remained virtually forgotten for the past 50 years.”
The listing says that a developer should be able to build a five-story residential building, with up to 71 new units of housing, on the 0.75 acre site.
It’s unclear if any of the new apartment units would ultimately be designated as affordable housing, or what will happen to the current residents along Orme Street. Matt McMullan, the president of the Foxcroft Heights Civic Association, said the group has discussed the listing with residents “at a number of association meetings.”
“This is not the first time that gentrification has been broached with the neighborhood, and historically, residents have been divided on the topic,” said McMullan.
The listing’s real estate agent, Barbara Johnson, said she had no comment. The full listing is below.
Amazing opportunity to tear down and build 5-6 stories in prime Arlington County location! Foxcroft Heights is Arlington’s best kept secret, with a location one mile from the Pentagon Metro and Crystal City-Amazon HQ-2, and one stop light to the 14th Street Bridge. Incredible views of Arlington National Cemetery, USAF Memorial, the Capital and the Washington Monument starting on the 3rd floor. Lots & Alley Parcels comprise 32,427 square feet of buildable space. Yield Analysis and Pricing are based upon 5 floors with two levels of underground parking. Total Gross Building Area is 75,578 Square Feet, 71 units ranging 950-1200 square feet, 8814 Square Feet of Open Space, and 77 parking spaces. Commercial Mixed Use on first floor allowed, but Yield is based on Maximum Residential use under the Form Based Code. Call or email for complete package of materials. FYI: If timed correctly, the re-development of 901-925 Block can and will be simultaneous with the planned redevelopment and expansion of Arlington National Cemetery and the most eastern corridor of Columbia Pike, allowing for vast and integrated gentrification of the area. It is an exceptional opportunity to revitalize and rebuild a part of Arlington County that has remained virtually forgotten for the past 50 years.
Images (2-3) via Google Maps
Bicycling advocates are blasting newly revealed plans to simultaneously expand Arlington National Cemetery and realign Columbia Pike, arguing that the proposed changes could make cycling along the roadway more dangerous.
The advocacy group “Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County” claims the cemetery’s current expansion plans, designed to someday add 70 acres to the burial ground, “will squander a major opportunity to improve the bike connection between Columbia Pike and Pentagon City and arguably make cycling less pleasant and less safe.”
In a message to its mailing list, the group urged concerned cyclists to speak in opposition to the cemetery’s plans at a public meeting on the subject in Pentagon City tonight (Wednesday).
The organization, founded by county transportation commission chair Chris Slatt, is primarily concerned that the cemetery only plans to add a 10-foot-wide sidewalk along the pike’s north side when it realigns the road. Army officials are currently hoping to add space for as many as 60,000 new interments to the cemetery’s south, absorbing the former Navy annex site and several other acres of land controlled by the county near S. Joyce Street and Washington Blvd, prompting some changes to the pike in the area.
The project also calls for the removal of Southgate Road in its entirety as it runs through area, which Slatt’s group describes as “a relatively quiet street that cyclists currently use to avoid that stretch of Columbia Pike.” The organization has made improving conditions for cyclists on the pike a central part of its mission, and it’s warning that eliminating an alternative to biking along the road would be a major step backward for the area.
“By replacing Southgate Road with just a sidewalk, this project is arguably a downgrade in cycling infrastructure,” the group wrote. “This portion of Columbia Pike has no reasonable nearby alternative. It needs great bike infrastructure.”
Spokespeople for the cemetery did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the organization’s criticisms. But a draft environmental assessment of the project prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suggests that the changes represent “the upgrade of Columbia Pike into a multimodal facility.”
“The alignment for the future Columbia Pike has the necessary geometry for a high capacity regional multimodal transportation corridor,” the corps wrote.
The corps wrote that planners also considered building the “wall trail” along the cemetery’s eastern boundary as part of this work, a bit of cycling infrastructure long hoped for by county officials to link the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood to Memorial Avenue. Yet the corps said it determined that it “appears to have severe space constraints due to aboveground utilities along the proposed route,” and didn’t consider it any further.
Instead, Slatt’s group would rather see the Army build a “bidirectional bike lane” on the north side of the pike to connect with additional improvements to the west of the area. If that’s not feasible, the organization would also accept a widening of the planned sidewalk into a trail “providing demarcated areas for pedestrians and cyclists marked with paint, signage or differentiated materials.”
Tonight’s meeting on the project is scheduled for the Sheraton Pentagon City hotel (900 S. Orme Street) from 5-8 p.m. The Army expects roadway construction associated with the expansion could start as soon as 2021.
Update at 2:45 p.m. — The base’s public affairs office released the following statement Wednesday.
The Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Feb. 27 incident where 11 personnel began feeling ill after a letter was opened on the Marine Corps side of the base remains under investigation.
NCIS and the FBI are conducting the joint investigation.
The three Marines who were transported for additional medical evaluations were released from the hospital at approximately 10 p.m. last night.
This office will continue to provide updates as they become available.
Earlier: Firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement responded to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Tuesday afternoon for a hazmat situation involving an unknown substance that was mailed to the base.
Firefighters were first called to Henderson Hall, the headquarters of the U.S. Marine Corps, just after 4:30 p.m. for a hazmat incident. Ft. Myer, Arlington County and Alexandria firefighters and hazmat units were dispatched to the scene, as was an “EMS task force” that is usually dispatched to mass casualty incidents.
Initial reports suggest that a certified letter was opened in one of the buildings and that it contained some sort of potentially hazardous substance, prompting an evacuation of the building and the deployment of an emergency decontamination station.
Eleven people were treated for symptoms and three were transported to the hospital in stable condition, according to the Arlington County Fire Department. Symptoms included a nose bleed and a burning sensation, according to initial reports.
A Marine Corps official released a statement saying that the victims were Marines.
“An envelope containing an unknown substance was received, today, aboard Joint Base Ft. Myer-Henderson Hall,” the statement said. “Personnel in the affected building took immediate preventative measures by evacuating the building. Base officials are coordinating with local hazmat teams and the FBI. Several Marines are receiving medical care as a result of this incident.”
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said via Twitter that he is “closely following the situation.”
With the help of the local hazmat teams “the building was screened and cleared, and the letter was removed,” the Marine Corps said late Tuesday. The FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) are now conducting a joint investigation.
National news media, including major television networks, gathered outside of the base in Arlington’s Foxcroft Heights neighborhood to report on the story. A press conference to be held outside the base was later cancelled. No reason was given for the cancellation.
During the incident police closed off the road near the entrance to Henderson Hall, at the intersection of S. Orme Street and Southgate Road.
Engine 161’s crew evacuated and decontaminated 11 patients from the hazard area, all evaluated by EMS-3transported to area hospital. All units have picked up, scene turned over to @FBIWFO @FBI pic.twitter.com/cAbNW75zOJ
— IAFF LOCAL F253 (@FortMyerFire) February 28, 2018
#Update: Ft Myer Hazmat, 11 people started feeling ill after letter was opened in consolidated admin building. 3 were transported. Condition not known. Ft Myer PIO enroute.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) February 27, 2018
#Update: Ft Myer, 3 transported patients in stable condition. Command is scaling back incident starting to put some units in service. Investigation ongoing.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) February 27, 2018
Closely following the situation at Ft. Myer in Arlington. This is scary, I hope very much that everyone involved will be alright. https://t.co/19WHBmUNCp
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) February 27, 2018
— IAFF Local 2141 (@IAFFLocal2141) February 27, 2018
Instant Runoff Bill Passes Committee — A bill that authorizes the Arlington County Board to use instant runoff voting for Board elections has passed a state committee. The legislation from Del. Patrick Hope (D) is intended to “encourage consensus candidates and eliminate the likelihood that a fringe contender could sneak through with 25 or 30 percent of the vote in a crowded field.” [InsideNova]
Foxcroft Heights Fire — Arlington County and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall firefighters battled heavy fire in a townhouse near the eastern end of Columbia Pike Saturday evening. No injuries were reported but the home sustained serious damage. [Twitter, Twitter]
Fire at Willston Centre — A fire broke out Saturday night at a store in the Willston Centre shopping center in Seven Corners. TV news reports said the fire started in the Steven’s Shop tuxedo shop. Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze. No one was injured. [Patch]
Community Foundation Gala Set — The Arlington Community Foundation will be holding its annual gala on Saturday, April 21 at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City. The theme for this year is “This Is Us.” The event will feature a performance by “Arlington’s own Amy Wilcox and her band from L.A.” [Arlington Community Foundation]
Pushback on Naming Gravelly for Nancy Reagan — The pushback to the pushback against naming Gravelly Point park for First Lady Nancy Reagan has arrived. Writes a conservative website: “Opposition to the name change is… mean-spirited, petty partisanship. Nancy Reagan deserves better.” [Daily Signal]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The projects have been advanced by a county committee via Arlington’s Neighborhood Conservation Program, which encourages neighborhoods to apply for funding for various types of local improvements.
The projects set for approval are:
- A new neighborhood sign for Long Branch Creek ($12,500)
- Street improvements and new streetlights along 31st Street S. in Fairlington, between S. Randolph and Woodrow Streets ($1.7 million)
- New streetlights on S. Oak, Ode and Orme Streets in Foxcroft Heights ($562,704)
- Intersection improvements along 2nd Street S. at S. Wayne, Uhle and Wise Streets in Penrose ($1.6 million)
- Street improvements along N. George Mason Drive between 11th Street N. and I-66 in Waycroft-Woodlawn ($1.4 million)
The County Board is expected to vote on the Neighborhood Conservation projects at its Saturday meeting. The measure also includes an additional $200,000 for the county’s “Missing Link Program,” which funds the construction of small stretches of new sidewalk to connect existing sidewalks.
The long-awaited process of demolishing the Navy Annex and its surrounding parking lots is scheduled to begin within the next month or two, officials tell ARLnow.com.
The 1 million square foot military office complex, first built in 1941 and located on the eastern end of Columbia Pike, will be torn down to make way for an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery. The entire 42-acre Navy Annex site, which includes a large surface parking lot on the other side of Columbia Pike, will be turned into a grass field in advance of an official transfer from the Department of the Army to Arlington National Cemetery in late 2013.
Demolition on the eastern wing of the Navy Annex is scheduled to start in November or December. The process will include abatement of asbestos and other hazardous materials. Demolition, site grading and seeding is expected to be complete by August 2013.
Columbia Pike should only experience “minimal” traffic impacts from the project; Southgate Road, which runs parallel to the Pike on the other side of the Navy Annex, is expected to see the majority of traffic disruptions.
The Navy Annex site is not expected to be used for burials for at least a couple of years. First, Arlington County and the federal government must come to a land swap agreement. The entities are still working on a deal to swap the county’s 4.23 acre Southgate Road right of way, and perhaps some other land, in exchange for a portion of the Navy Annex site.
The most recent land swap agreement — which has since fallen through, according to Arlington County federal liaison Brian Stout — called for construction of an Arlington County heritage museum on the site. At least a portion of the proposed museum would be used to commemorate the Civil War-era Freedman’s Village, which was once located on the site.
The county is also working with the federal government and VDOT to reach an agreement for a realignment of Columbia Pike. Currently, the Pike curves around the Air Force Memorial — located adjacent to the Navy Annex — and toward the cemetery before the intersection with S. Joyce Street.
Stout says the county is proposing that the Pike be straightened and run through the current Navy Annex parking lot, before making an L-shaped intersection with Joyce Street. That would make for an easier drive up the Pike and would make for a contiguous burial area that’s not divided by the busy road. The project has been discussed but so far no engineering plans are in place, Stout said.
Another point of discussion deals with parking for the Air Force Memorial. Stout said the current demolition plan seems to call for the demolition of a portion of the parking lot used by memorial visitors. If that’s removed, visitors may need to park on Southgate Road.
Takis Karantonis, Executive Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, says the demolition presents an opportunity to improve the “eastern gateway” to the Pike. He said CPRO would like to see up to five stories of mixed use development along the Columbia Pike frontage of the tiny Foxcroft Heights neighborhood, located between the Navy Annex and the Sheraton National hotel.
“This is not the sightliest of places,” he said of the aging military building and the parking lots that line that section of the Pike. “Getting this redeveloped… is for us a welcome development. We think that the neighborhood will develop very nicely with that.”
Most of Foxcroft Heights is slated to remain single family homes under the recently-approved Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan.
A neighborhood information meeting about the demolition process is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Galaxy Room of the Sheraton National (900 S. Orme Street).