by Bridget Reed Morawski March 16, 2018 at 11:00 am 0

Sen. Tim Kaine joined Wakefield High School students this morning (March 16) to discuss gun violence and school safety.

Students offered their own perspectives and asked Kaine questions ranging from what he would do regarding the Dickey Amendment to school security measures to mental health treatment.

Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Sociology students were invited to the hour-and-a-half long event, which was also attended by Wakefield’s Michelle Cottrell-Williams, Virginia’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.

Over 40 students sat in the classroom, surrounded by members of the local press, most raptly attentive and occasionally emotional as they asked detailed questions of their senator.

“You’re shaking us out of our complacency and challenging us,” Tim Kaine said while introducing himself and his legislative background.

One student asked the senator whether or not he agreed that protection is emphasized over prevention, or that there is more concern with adding security than preventative gun control measures, which the senator affirmed he did.

He mentioned several times a desire to allow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct public health research on gun violence, as well as expanded mental health services and funding. He also said he supports cutting down on the power that interest groups have over Congress.

Kaine focused many of his responses not over assault weapons but on high capacity magazines, at one point saying that it is easier to write a bill outright banning high capacity magazines with over ten rounds than it would be to describe every permutation of what is broadly called an “assault weapon.”

He added that “every constitutional amendment has reasonable limits within it,” emphasizing the “well-regulated” aspect of the second amendment.

“You won’t eliminate violence, you won’t eliminate gun violence,” he began.”But that’s not the goal, the goal is to reduce it.”

by ARLnow.com March 15, 2018 at 8:45 am 0

ATS Parents Peeved About Overcrowding — Arlington Traditional School parents are protesting the addition of classes and relocatable classrooms to the already-overcrowded school. [Arlington Connection]

Alliterative Pothole Patching Update — Via Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Punctilious, present pothole people have plugged 500-plus problems post-2017 but prefer a plethora for practice. Please provide. http://topics.arlingtonva.us/reportproblem or call 703-228-6570.” [Twitter]

AIM Petition Nearing 1,000 Signatures — More than 900 people have signed a petition calling on the County Board to nix the proposed 20 percent cut in funding for Arlington Independent Media. “The proposed Arlington County FY ’19 budget would be catastrophic for AIM,” the petition says. [Change.org]

Arlington Ranks No. 2 in Virginia ‘Healthiest’ List — Arlington is second only to Loudoun on a list of the healthiest counties in Virginia, compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. [WTOP]

Capitol City Files for Bankruptcy — Shortly after closing its Shirlington brewpub, Capitol City Brewing Co. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Owner David von Storch says he intends to keep Cap City’s downtown D.C. location open, serving its four core in-house beers, which will now be brewed by a contract brewery, as well as local craft brews. [Washington Business Journal]

Kaine to Talk Guns at Wakefield HS — Via press release: “On Friday, March 16, Senator Tim Kaine will hold a classroom conversation on gun violence and school safety with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington. Kaine will hear students’ perspectives on how policymakers should address this issue and which solutions they would like to see implemented to keep schools safer.”

Photo courtesy @thelastfc

by ARLnow.com March 14, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

Police are looking for a man who shot up a vehicle with a BB gun in the Nauck neighborhood last week.

The incident happened Wednesday night along S. Shirlington Road. Police responded to a parking lot for a report of gunshots. They arrived and found a vehicle damaged by BBs, but the suspect had already fled and could not be located.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

DISCHARGE FIREARM/MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED BUILDING, 2018-03070203, 2200 block of Shirlington Road. At approximately 8:10 p.m. on March 7, police were dispatched to the area after a witness reported hearing shots fired inside a parking garage. Arriving officers canvased the area and located a vehicle with damage from a BB gun. The suspect fled the scene prior to police arrival. No injuries were reported. The suspect is described as a black male with curly, reddish dreads, wearing a black jacket. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump.


by ARLnow.com March 14, 2018 at 11:05 am 0

(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) Students at Arlington’s high schools walked out of class Wednesday morning to protest gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Florida mass school shooting.

The 10 a.m. walkout was planned nationally, on the one month anniversary of the shooting, and in Arlington it was the second such protest in as many months. Washington-Lee, Yorktown, Wakefield, Langston and H-B Woodlawn were among the schools participating. Students at Kenmore Middle School also walked out, according to the school’s Twitter account.

At Washington-Lee, hundreds — if not thousands — of students gathered on the football field amid cold, blustery weather for a solemn remembrance of the slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and teachers.

A group of students sat in the bleachers, holding signs with the names and photos of the victims, while another group of students read each of their names and a bit of biographical information, one by one, about one per minute. The gathered students stood still, in silence only broken by a brief applause at the end, before returning to the school.

A couple dozen administrators and teachers watched over the event, along with a pair of Arlington County police officers, there to provide security. A few W-L graduates, parents and local residents also attended, some holding signs.

During Yorktown’s walkout, meanwhile, students wrote letters about school safety to members of Congress

Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy said late last month that today’s walkout would be the last walkout in which participating students would be granted a blanket excused absence.

by ARLnow.com March 7, 2018 at 8:45 am 0

Wakefield Advances to Championship — The Wakefield High School boys basketball team has advanced to the Virginia Class 5 championship after defeating Edison last night 82-66. The team will face Varina tomorrow at VCU. Meanwhile, Wakefield senior forward A’Mari Cooper has been named Northern Region Class 5 Player of the Year. [Washington Post, InsideNova]

Metro Starts Selling Merch — Despite its reliability issues and subsequent image problem, Metro has launched a new line of clothing and gifts, sold online and at a new gift store at Metro Center. The reaction to the merchandise has been mixed. [WMATA, NBC Washington]

General Assembly Passes Car Seat Bill — “Today, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 708… which would change the commonwealth’s law to require that child safety seats remain rear facing until the age of two, or the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device. The bill is now on its way to Governor Northam’s office for his signature. If signed, the new law would become effective July 1, 2019.” [AAA Mid-Atlantic]

More Restaurants Considering Ballston Quarter — Fresh off the announcement that Ted’s Bulletin was coming to Ballston Quarter, the owners of trendy D.C. spots Himitsu and Gravitas are said to be considering opening up eateries at the mall. Also in the works: a donut shop, an arepas stand, an oyster bar, and a barbecue joint. [Washington Business Journal]

Nicecream Expanding to D.C. — Liquid nitrogen-powered ice cream shop Nicecream Factory, which first opened in Clarendon, has since expanded to Alexandria and is now planning to open two D.C. locations, in Adams Morgan and Shaw. [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Gun Reform Discussion — Fred Guttenberg, father of one of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting victims, will speak at an event called “A Conversation About Gun Safety And The Safety Of American Schools” at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria tonight. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is hosting the event, which will discuss “actions we can take to ensure no other parent has to experience this kind of trauma.” [Eventbrite]

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 6, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

In just six days, about 41 Arlington households have volunteered to host gun control demonstrators later this month.

That translates to approximately 131 beds for guest marchers in Arlington.

Altogether, 350 host families volunteered in the first six days that a website aimed at connecting protesters with host families went live, or about 1,120 beds, according to Tricia Duncan, an organizer who lives in Washington but grew up in Arlington. Duncan added that that is a conservative estimate of the currently volunteer housing stock.

Thousands of marchers will descend on Washington on March 24 for the March For Our Lives gun control protest, and a group of mothers with DC Local Ambassadors knew that they’d need a place to sleep.

That’s when the women issued the call last week seeking lodging for the thousands of anticipated protesters.

Initially, the group consisted of seven DC Local Ambassadors who had the same idea: finding free lodging for kids who were coming in for the march. Now there’s 15 organizers, working to find housing for a march that has already suffered from organizational challenges.

The group reached out to their “trusted network” — church groups, civic groups, and parent-teacher associations — for lodging locations.

Both potential hosts and prospective guests have to fill out a form online to be considered. Some social media vetting is conducted, said Elizabeth Andrews, a Washington resident and organizer, but it’s for safety reasons.

The group is also requesting biographical information to try to make “thoughtful matches” that consider the backgrounds of everyone involved, like gender, race, and ethnicity.

“We are trying to think about making it the best situation possible for everyone,” said Andrews.

The Arlington County Democratic Committee, meanwhile, is planning its own events for the March 24 demonstration, including a poster-making party, a walk from the Virginia side of the Memorial Bridge to the march, and a rally at an Arlington church in support of action in Virginia

File photo.

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 1, 2018 at 10:45 am 0

Congressman Don Beyer (D-Va.) co-sponsored a bill this week that would prohibit the sale, transfer, production, and importation of assault weapons.

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2018, H.R. 5087, was introduced by Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) on Monday (February 26). The bill comes as pressure mounts nationwide following the Parkland, Fla., school shooting which sparked renewed efforts to pass gun control legislation.

“We need the Assault Weapons Ban because we have to get weapons of war out of America’s communities,” Beyer said in a press release. “It is too late to stop the shootings in Parkland, Newtown, Aurora, and so many others which were carried out with an AR-15 style rifle, but we must act to prevent future such massacres.

“Congress should listen to the young people in Florida and across the country and pass this lifesaving measure immediately,” he added.

The ban would specifically prohibit the sale, transfer, production, and importation of the following:

  • Semi-automatic rifles and handguns with a military-style feature that can accept a detachable magazine
  • Semi-automatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds
  • Semi-automatic shotguns with a military-style features
  • Any ammunition feeding device that can hold more than 10 rounds
  • 205 specifically-named and listed firearms

More from the press release:

When an assault weapon or a high-capacity magazine is used in a shooting, the number of victims who are killed increases by 63 percent. There have been almost 8,300 incidents of gun violence so far in 2018. More than 2,200 Americans have lost their lives. More than 500 children have been killed or injured.

File photo

by ARLnow.com February 28, 2018 at 4:30 pm 0

A dispute over a drive-thru ATM led a man in a Mercedes to draw a gun and make threats, police say.

The incident happened Monday afternoon, on the 3100 block of Columbia Pike, according to this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report.

A SunTrust bank is located on that block of the Pike.

Police say that the suspect “became verbally irate” while waiting in line to use the ATM. More from the crime report:

BRANDISHING, 2018-02260160, 3100 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 2:10 p.m. on February 26, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing of a firearm. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was using the drive thru ATM when another vehicle pulled up behind him. The driver of the approaching vehicle became verbally irate, threatened the victim and allegedly brandished a firearm. The suspect is described as a black male, bald, approximately 25-30 years old, wearing glasses and a black shirt, driving a black Mercedes. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, after the jump.

Photo via Google Maps


by ARLnow.com February 27, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

(Updated at 3 p.m.) With more school walkouts planned, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy is drawing the line on excused absences for student protests

Murphy sent an email to parents today, following a walkout by high school students last week to protest gun violence and gun policies. Murphy said APS will allow and grant excused absences for another national walkout planned for March 14, but will mark unexcused any student who walks out for the entire day on April 20, as apparently is being planned, without parental permission in advance.

“While we cannot condone weekly or even monthly occurrences like this, we try to encourage our students’ interest in expressing their ideas and opinions,” Murphy wrote. “Therefore, our secondary schools will support students’ participation in a brief national walkout on March 14, to allow them this one additional time to convey their feelings on school property and without greatly disrupting the school day.”

One parent noted to ARLnow.com that “some students and parents are opting to peacefully protest these walkout days by not going to school that day at all.”

The full letter from Dr. Murphy is below.

Dear APS Families,

Last week, many of our secondary students, in support of their student peers in Florida and throughout the nation, participated in a lunchtime “walkout” to peacefully protest the violence that has occurred in many schools across our nation. School staff and principals learned about these walkouts in advance and provided the students an opportunity to express their views. For the most part, each school’s walkout was very respectful and lasted about 20-30 minutes.

As you may have read or heard, students are calling for a similar, 17-minute national school walkout on Wed, March 14 at 10 a.m., which will mark the one-month anniversary of the tragic shootings that took place at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. As educators, part of our role is to help teach our students how to actively engage in civic conversations and the importance of being engaged in our democratic process.  This happens in many ways – by voting; by writing to or speaking with elected leaders; by joining organizations that hold and advocate for similar ideas or beliefs; and, at times, by participating in peaceful and respectful demonstrations.

While we cannot condone weekly or even monthly occurrences like this, we try to encourage our students’ interest in expressing their ideas and opinions. We have also observed that this response does not reflect any one group’s opinion – its focus has been nonpartisan among students. Therefore, our secondary schools will support students’ participation in a brief national walkout on March 14, to allow them this one additional time to convey their feelings on school property and without greatly disrupting the school day. Students who participate will not be penalized for taking part in their school’s brief demonstration, and we will work to ensure that any students who are not interested in participating will not be pressured to do so.

The event will also allow students to honor the 17 lives lost in Florida as well as the other children and school staff who have been senselessly lost through similar events at other schools. This decision is in keeping with the moment of silence and other commemorations that all APS schools participated in and our community observed immediately after the events of September 11.

We believe that March 14 will present a minimal interruption to our instructional day; however, we also have heard that students are being encouraged to participate in another walkout on April 20 in the morning which includes not returning to school for the remainder of the day. In that case, students would be marked with an unexcused absence unless parents provide written permission in advance of the 20th. We believe that the event in D.C. on Saturday, March 24, will provide ample opportunity for students to participate in a Walk and to exercise their beliefs about gun control without interfering with their responsibility to school and their classroom work.

Finally, some of our families have asked about the involvement of our elementary schools. Elementary principals and teachers will find ways to be responsive to students that are age-appropriate and suitable for their interest in the topic.

If you have questions, I encourage you to speak with your school’s principal.


Patrick K. Murphy, Ed.D.

by ARLnow.com February 27, 2018 at 9:50 am 0

Opinions seem to be divided about the house in Arlington’s Highland Park neighborhood with the chalk message declaring “F–k the NRA.”

On one hand, many people — even those who are not fans of the National Rifle Association and pro-gun policies — object to writing a large profanity on the front of a house along a busy road. There are children in the neighborhood who walk by this house, those who object to it say.

On the other hand, the resident who wrote the message is exercising his or her right to free speech and addressing an important topic. When guns are being used to kill children in schools, supporters say, the “F-word” should be the least of people’s concerns.

What do you think?

by ARLnow.com February 26, 2018 at 3:50 pm 0

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) An Arlington resident decided to voice an opinion on gun control via a message scrawled in chalk onto the front of their house, after the mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida two weeks ago, but the message is causing some controversy not related to politics.

The house is located along busy Washington Blvd, roughly between East Falls Church and Westover Village. Despite Arlington’s deep blue political leanings, the words have been a hot button conversation among neighbors because the message — “F–k the NRA” — includes a profanity in plain sight of anyone driving or walking by.

“I have no issue with their freedom of expression, but I am concerned that my young kids are going to see the profanity as we drive by and ask what it means,” one resident said on the local NextDoor message board. “I also tend to think it’s possible to express the same sentiment without public profanity. Is this kind of thing even allowed under Arlington code?”

“Regardless of how you feel on the issue, it’s highly offensive and inappropriate,” another said. “But we can explain to kids that vulgarity is evidence of a weak mind.”

“I’m no fan of the NRA but it’s outrageous and counterproductive to boot,” said yet another peeved resident. “Freedom of speech and expression does not need to sink to this level,” echoed a neighbor.

One resident who lives nearby told ARLnow.com that he contacted police, to no avail.

“I called ACPD non emergency number as kids shouldn’t be seeing that kind of language in my opinion,” he said. “Their response, ‘police have been out and there is nothing that they can do.’ First Amendment protection is needed absolutely but it was shocking that there was no profanity law that was being broken.”

Some message board posters, however, said they did not have a problem with the sign.

“I pump my fist in the air every time I drive by,” said one, “in case the owners are reading this and think everyone is against their statement.”

“That house usually has pretty artwork or other positive statements. Obviously the profanity is pushing the limits for some neighbors but personally I don’t have a problem explaining the use of profanity to my kids because the intention behind it is good,” said another supporter. “The artist isn’t promoting violence, unhealthy or dangerous behavior. Has anyone close to the neighbor talked to them and explained how the language is affecting them?”

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 21, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Arlington high school students walked out of class Wednesday at about noon, joining nationwide protesters responding to a recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Wakefield High School students made their way to the athletic stadium for a rally in favor of stricter gun control laws during a 30 minute class walkout. Administrators agreed to consider the walkout an excused absence, according to several Wakefield students.

Students spoke to the crowd with a public address system, calling themselves “moving targets” and shouting that gun violence won’t be resolved until everyone helps them “rise together and create that change.”

(Other Arlington students, including those at H-B Woodlawn and Yorktown High School, also staged walkouts today, as did students in Montgomery County and elsewhere in the region.)

Hannah Jones, a 17-year-old junior at Wakefield and an Arlington Young Democrats member, referenced tweets from an account called National School Walkout as her and her peers’ inspiration for the walkout.

Another student, 16-year-old sophomore Natasa Volk, only recently has become involved in politics.

“I think my mom wanted me to swivel in my own ideas and figure out what my values are,” said Volk. “But definitely this year I have engaged a lot more in political conversations, whether its with teachers or with my mother and other students.”

“I guess I started to care, which is kind of disappointing that I didn’t care as much.”

Volk and other students drew protest posters in their morning classes, with slogans like “317 Last Year — How Many This Year?” The walkout crowd was a few hundred teenagers and adults, a portion of the school’s 2016 enrollment rate of around 2,000 students.

Student protests are being staged as widespread as Chicago and Florida in response to the Parkland shooting, but Volk says that it wasn’t just the most recent shooting that inspired action, but that she learned last year that mass shootings happen much more frequently than one might see reported in the national media.

Some students were pessimistic about the protest, reportedly believing that it would just be an excuse for the apathetic to skip class. But, Jones believes, even those students will benefit from the walkout.

“Even if that’s their motive, being around this many people and to see this many people caring” about gun control legislation, said Jones. “I feel that if the news that they’re hearing hasn’t affected them, then this will get them to change their minds and get them to be a bit more directly involved.”

Reporters from ARLnow and WJLA (ABC 7) were not permitted to follow students to the rally at Wakefield High School.

Students, parents, and administrators alike took to Twitter in support of the march — including Virginia’s 2018 teacher of the year, Michelle Cottrell-Williams.

Further protests have been called for by student and adult activists nationwide, and a nationwide “March For Our Lives” protest has been scheduled for March 24.

Tweets from the Wakefield walkout, along with emails sent to H-B Woodlawn and Yorktown parents, after the jump.


by ARLnow.com February 5, 2018 at 2:00 pm 0

Two men robbed a woman of her purse and cash early Sunday morning in the Westover area, according to police.

The robbery happened around 1 a.m. on the 5700 block of 10th Road N., a block or two from the Custis Trail. The woman was not harmed and the suspects fled in a pickup truck, police said.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ROBBERY, 2018-02040017, 5700 block of 10th Road N. At approximately 1:00 a.m. on February 4, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery by force. Upon arrival, it was determined that a female victim exited her vehicle and was walking to her residence when she was approached by two male suspects, who demanded her purse and money. The two suspects stole the victim’s purse and other items of value and fled in a dark blue two-door pickup truck driven by a third suspect. Responding officers canvassed the area with negative results. Suspect One is described as a medium-skinned black male, approximately 5’8-5’10, medium build, in his early 20’s, wearing a black cap, a long black jacket with a hood, with a beige jacket underneath and black shoes. Suspect Two is described as a black male. There is no description of the third suspect. The investigation is ongoing.

Also over the weekend, a Purcellville man was arrested and charged with drunkenly brandishing a gun at a security guard in Crystal City.

From ACPD:

BRANDISHING, 2018-02030233, 200 block of 18th Street S. At approximately 9:37 p.m. on February 3, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that a security guard was patrolling the area on foot when a male suspect walked past him. The security guard looked back and observed the suspect allegedly brandishing a firearm at him. Responding officers canvased the area and located a suspect matching the description provided by the victim. Trevor Burns, 23, of Purcellville, VA, was arrested and charged with Brandishing a Firearm, Carrying a Concealed Weapon, Carrying a Concealed Handgun Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drunk in Public.

by ARLnow.com January 25, 2018 at 9:50 am 0

A Maryland man entered the lobby of a Courthouse hotel early Tuesday morning, made some demands and then threatened employees with a gun when the demands were not met, police say.

The man was seeking “the business cards of management,” according to this week’s Arlington County crime report. Police did not give an explanation for why he wanted business cards at 1 a.m.

Responding officers were able to find the man nearby, based on a “lookout” broadcast after the victims called 911. He was arrested and now faces multiple charges.

More from ACPD:

BRANDISHING, 2018-01230010, 2400 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 1:00 a.m. on January 23, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that a male suspect entered the lobby of a business, made contact with two employees and requested the business cards of management. When the victims declined, the suspect threatened them, brandished a firearm and fled in his vehicle prior to police arrival. A lookout was broadcast based upon the suspect description provided by witnesses and arriving officers located a vehicle and suspect matching the description nearby. Richard Hylton Jr., 28, of Gaithersburg, MD, was arrested and charged with Assault & Battery (x2), Brandishing a Firearm, and Carrying a Concealed Weapon (x2).

This week’s crime report was one of the shorter ones in recent memory. The remaining items from it are below.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2018-01170105, 4000 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 12:06 a.m. on January 17, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect(s) removed the tires from and tampered with multiple vehicles in the parking lot of a business. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2018-01170002, 01170124, 1000 block of Arlington Boulevard. At approximately 12:08 a.m. on January 17, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on January 16, an unknown suspect(s) smashed the windows of two vehicles and stole items of value. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

by Chris Teale January 19, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) A bill by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) banning so-called “bump stocks” in Virginia has made progress in the early days of the 2018 Virginia General Assembly legislative session.

Ebbin’s bill — S.B. 1 — passed the Senate’s Courts of Justice Committee on Monday, January 15 and then was referred to the Finance Committee.

The legislation was filed after investigators found that Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock had modified some of the semi-automatic rifles in his hotel room with “bump stocks,” an attachment that allows the guns to fire faster.

Companion legislation by in the House of Delegates by local Del. Mark Levine (D-45) is still awaiting a hearing at the committee level.

Ebbin was a co-patron on S.B. 252, a bill to “ban the box” that passed the state Senate on Friday by a 23-16 vote.

It would prevent state and local governments from asking about potential employees’ criminal histories during an initial application. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed an executive order banning the box for state government in 2015.

“This bill is important simply because it gives everyone a fair chance at employment,” Ebbin said in a statement. “Those people who have paid their debts to society should be given a second chance. Providing every Virginian the chance to work builds our workforce and puts us on a great path towards economic security. The only way to ensure that we build stronger communities is if we have a strong workforce and banning the box is a step in the right direction of achieving that goal.”

But other gun safety bills by state Sen. Barbara Favola were defeated in the state Senate’s Courts of Justice Committee earlier this week. A bill allowing local governments to prohibit the open carry of firearms in protests or demonstrations was among those killed.

Favola introduced it after the armed white supremacist protests in Charlottesville last year.

“Regarding [the bill], it was my hope that lawmakers would better understand the need for people to feel safe and be safe when they assemble,” Favola said in a statement.

And while other legislation introduced by Levine, including a bill allowing localities to set their own minimum wage and another to repeal “the crime of fornication, i.e., voluntary sexual intercourse by an unmarried person,” is still awaiting debate, he celebrated a win early in the session for his Virginia Transparency Caucus.

The caucus, co-created by Levine as a first-term Delegate alongside state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-11) in 2016, pushed for recorded votes in General Assembly committees and subcommittees and received them in the legislature’s new rules. All committee hearings will now also be live streamed and archived online for the first time.

“This is a big victory for transparency in Virginia,” Levine wrote in an email to supporters. “For four hundred years, Virginia legislators killed bills in secret behind closed doors. Not anymore. Now residents will be able to know exactly who deep-sixed a bill and who wanted to move it forward.”

But Del. Patrick Hope has run into opposition from the ACLU’s Virginia chapter for sponsoring a bill that would expand the use of “strip searches” to those under arrest for traffic crimes and suspected of carrying drugs. Currently, searches are only permitted for those carrying weapons. The bill was discussed by a subcommittee of the House of Delegates’ Courts of Justice committee on Friday.

“We really oppose any expansion of a strip search,” Charlie Schmidt, public policy counsel for ACLU Virginia, said in a video. “It’s invasive; it should only be used in situations where we’re dealing with serious crimes, not petty traffic stops.”

The ACLU of Virginia has offered support for another of Hope’s bills, which would end conversion therapy for children under 18.


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