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?
(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?”
(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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
TSA officers spotted the .32 caliber handgun (pictured above) in the man’s carry-on luggage yesterday morning (January 4). It was loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber.
After spotting the handgun on the X-ray monitors in the airport’s security checkpoint, TSA officers alerted Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police officers, who confiscated the gun and cited the man on a state weapons charge.
Airport operations were not affected. The TSA said it was the first gun caught at the airport so far this year. In 2017, officers caught 13.
More from the TSA:
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. In addition, TSA has the authority to access civil penalties of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900. The complete list of penalties is posted online here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/civil-enforcement.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its web site here: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.
Photo via TSA
Nothing was reported stolen during the hold up, which happened around 7:45 p.m.
More from the crime report:
BRANDISHING, 2017-12220221, 5200 block of Yorktown Boulevard. At approximately 7:41 p.m. on December 22, police were dispatched to the report of a suspect holding an individual at gunpoint. Upon arrival, it was determined that three victims were walking in a park when a male suspect jumped out from the bushes and brandished a firearm. The suspect forced the victims onto their knees and threatened them, before dismissing two of the victims. The suspect instructed the third victim to empty his pockets before dismissing him from the scene. None of the victims were injured and nothing was stolen from the contents of the third victim’s pockets. Units canvased the area with negative results. The suspect is described as a young, white male, in his late teens or early twenties, wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and a black mask.
The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
Months after the mass shootings in Las Vegas, several legislators representing Arlington County have filed bills in the Virginia General Assembly to outlaw “bump stocks.”
After the October 1 shooting, which left 58 people dead and 546 injured, investigators found that 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.
And after Congress failed to act to ban them, local lawmakers will try to do so at the state level.
Del. Mark Levine and state Sens. Adam Ebbin and Barbara Favola (all D) each introduced legislation to ban any device “used to increase the rate of fire of any semi-automatic firearm beyond the capability of an unaided person to operate the trigger mechanism of that firearm.”
Anyone found to own, be making or selling such a device would be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. The City of Columbia, S.C., recently passed an ordinance banning them.
At a work session with the Arlington County Board earlier this month, Levine expressed cautious optimism at getting “bump stocks” banned in Virginia.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do at the federal level, but we certainly shouldn’t have them in Virginia,” he said. “That, I would hope would be an easy lift, although of course, nothing is an easy lift when it comes to guns.”
Making the Case for Amazon in Crystal City — Amazon’s planned second headquarters would find a good home in Crystal City, according to Washingtonian magazine writer Dan Reed. He said the combination of a major airport close by, good transit links from Metro and the fact that it remains “underutilized” after Base Realignment and Closure makes it an attractive option. Reed also suggested Poplar Point on the Anacostia waterfront in D.C. or the Discovery District in College Park, Md. as other places that fit the bill. [Washingtonian]
More Than 40 Drone Flights Detected at Fort Myer — A study to detect unmanned aircraft found that 43 drone flights were picked up over Fort Myer over a 30-day period beginning in August. It is in the middle of a no-drone zone, with flights requiring specific permission from the Federal Aviation Administration. The report suggests the flights could have been from “well-intentioned” tourists at the nearby Arlington National Cemetery and other National Parks. [WTOP]
Leaf Collection Begins Next Week — “The Arlington County government’s vacuum-leaf-collection program is slated to begin November 13 and run through December 22. Each civic-association area is slated to get two passes during the cycle, with signs posted three to seven days before each pass, government officials said. Schedules also will be posted online. Residents wishing leaves to be vacuumed away should place them at the curb by the posted date, but avoid putting them under low-hanging wires or near parked cars.” [Inside NOVA]
APS to Slow Down Planning for Instructional Focus of New High School Seats — Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington School Board agreed to slow down the process of determining an instructional focus for the 500-600 new high school seats at the Education Center until a task force looking at the school’s strategic plan has finished its work. The plan had been for Superintendent Patrick Murphy to bring initial ideas for the site to the Board in December, but staff said slowing down would allow a “big-picture view of all high-school needs in the county.” [Inside NOVA]
Virginia Man Tried to Board Plane With Loaded Gun at Reagan National Airport — A Manassas man tried to board a plane at Reagan National Airport last Thursday with a loaded gun. The Transportation Security Administration detected the 9mm semi-automatic handgun during security checks, confiscated the firearm and cited the man on a weapons charge. It was loaded with seven bullets. [WJLA, WRC]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Wakefield Student Sang National Anthem — Wakefield High School junior Samantha Rios sang the national anthem before Sunday night’s Redskins-Raiders game. Rios, who previously competed on a Spanish language version of The Voice, was seen by a national TV audience as controversy swirled over players kneeling in protest during the anthem. [WUSA 9]
Officials to Compete in Trivia Battle — County Board Chair Jay Fisette, state Sen. Barbara Favola, Del. Patrick Hope and former County Board members Mary Hynes and Joe Wholey will compete in a “housing trivia battle” next month, testing their knowledge of Arlington history, particularly as it relates to housing issues. [Arlington County]
Clement Blasts Daycare Approval — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement said in a new email to supporters that the current Board places the interests of developers ahead of that of residents. As an example, she cited the recent approval of a new daycare center on Lee Highway, despite concerns about traffic among some local residents. The approval “will likely engender cut through traffic on an adjacent one lane street off Lee Highway that has already experienced major traffic accidents,” Clement wrote. The daycare had the general support of the local civic association. [Audrey Clement]
Gun Control Group to Host Fmr. ATF Agent — The local chapter of the pro-gun-control group Moms Demand Action is hosting a special event on Wednesday, featuring a former ATF special agent. The event will include discussion of the “the challenges facing gun violence prevention.” It is scheduled from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Shirlington Branch Library. Moms Demand Action had a booth at Clarendon Day this past weekend and signed up nearly 100 new volunteers. [Facebook, Medium]
Nearby: One Guy is Holding Up Development in D.C. — One persistent activist is holding up hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development in the District. Chris Otten has succeeded in delaying numerous developments by rallying a group of neighbors and filing court challenges. [Bisnow]
The shots were fired around 2 a.m. on the 1000 block of N. Vermont Street, according to Arlington County Police. No injuries were reported.
An ACPD crime report details what happened.
RECKLESS HANDLING OF A FIREARM (late), 2017-06130094, 1000 block of N. Vermont Street. At approximately 11:03 a.m. on June 13, officers responded to the report of a suspicious circumstance. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 2:00 a.m. a resident heard a loud noise and later discovered two bullet holes in a shared wall of his residence. Police responded, conducted an investigation which is ongoing at this time.
The shootings happened around 2:20 a.m. Saturday, on the 2800 block of Key Blvd in Lyon Village, police say.
“The suspects advised that they were intoxicated and wanted to remain in the area until sober,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow.com. “That’s when they retrieved the shotgun, walked through the neighborhood and discharged multiple rounds.”
Two men, from Springfield and Falls Church, were arrested with the help of a description provided by a witness. They are now facing numerous charges including discharge of a firearm in a public place and destruction of property.
More from an ACPD crime report:
DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY (Significant), 2017-05060047, 2800 block of Key Boulevard. At approximately 2:19 a.m. on May 6, police were dispatched for the report of two suspects walking in the area damaging vehicles. Arriving officers located individuals matching the descriptions provided by a witness. The investigation revealed that the two intoxicated suspects retrieved a shotgun from their vehicle, discharged multiple rounds and damaged several vehicles. Alex Ventura, 21, of Springfield, VA was arrested and charged with destruction of property (x4), drunk in public and reckless handling of a firearm. Gerson Arias, 22, of Falls Church, VA was arrested and charged with intentionally destroy property, discharge a firearm in a public place, possession of a controlled substance, and drunk in public.
Federal prosecutors announced the plea deal early Tuesday afternoon. The defendant, 28-year-old Anthony Medrano, now faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced in August.
From a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia:
An Arlington man pleaded guilty today to willfully receiving a firearm while under indictment in Virginia state court.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement and other court records, Anthony Fernandez Medrano, 28, was indicted in Virginia state court in 2015 for possessing cocaine, a schedule II controlled substance. While still under indictment, and not lawfully able to purchase or possess firearms, Fernandez Medrano sought and purchased guns from a private party seller and signed bills of sale confirming the purchases.
Fernandez Medrano faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on August 11. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Michael B. Boxler, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Smith III is prosecuting the case.
The incident drew a big police response at the Horizons apartments (4300 Old Dominion Drive) around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The maintenance workers reportedly ran away after the gun was drawn and nobody was hurt.
More from an ACPD crime report:
BRANDISHING A FIREARM, 2017-03150073, 4300 block of Old Dominion Drive. At approximately 10:30 a.m. on March 15, officers responded to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that a building’s management notified residents that routine maintenance would be conducted in the building. When two maintenance workers knocked on a male subject’s door, the subject answered while brandishing a firearm and threatening the victims. The victims then fled the scene and contacted police. Gin Chan, 71, of Arlington Va, was arrested and charged with brandishing a firearm.