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Morning Notes

The sunset reflected in the rain, as seen from Pentagon City (photo courtesy Dave Statter)

Guilty Plea in 1998 Murder — “The case of Andrea Cincotta, a librarian and single mother who was found dead in her Arlington apartment, remained an unsolved mystery for nearly 24 years… On Wednesday, [Bobby Joe Leonard] pleaded guilty to a first-degree murder charge, admitting that he strangled Cincotta to death more than two decades ago. And he claimed he did so hoping to be paid by a man he believed to be Cincotta’s boyfriend.” [Washington Post]

Metro Upping Rail Service on Local Lines — “Welcome news for customers who ride the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. As of Aug 1, trains will arrive every 15 minutes on weekdays, matching service on the Green and Yellow lines. For most customers, the wait for a train will be no longer than 5-8 minutes, as most stations are served by at least two if not all three lines.” [WMATA]

Meteor Over Arlington — “Bright meteor from west Arlington, looking WNW tonight!” [Twitter]

Prohibition Tour of Arlington — “Arlington’s wholesome present hides some scandals of the past. You don’t even want to think of the vice – gambling, prostitution, you name it – that raged unchecked in Rosslyn… Park historian John McNair will lead a short walking tour on the Clarendon area on Aug. 12 at 3 p.m., detailing stories of local bootleggers and the government agents who attempted to stop them.” [Sun Gazette]

Fall Rec Class Catalog Released — “Special Delivery – ENJOY Arlington. We are excited to provide you with recreation, nature and history programs this fall.” [Dept. of Parks and Recreation]

F.C. Is Wealthiest Place in Va. — “According to a study from SmartAsset released this week, Falls Church residents rank the wealthiest in Virginia. The study assessed wealth by comparing counties across three categories: the amount of investment income residents receive, total per capita income and the median home value… After Falls Church, Arlington County and Fairfax County follow in second and third place for the top 10 wealthiest localities in Virginia.” [Falls Church News-Press]

It’s Friday — Rain and storms — some potentially severe — in the afternoon, evening and overnight. High of 85 and low of 73. Sunrise at 6:08 am and sunset at 8:24 pm. [Weather.gov]

Photo courtesy Dave Statter

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Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti at Arlington Democrats election watch party in November 2019, when she was elected to office (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) The Arlington police union is pushing back on accusations that officers mishandled the search of a suspect who is now linked to a double murder.

In a rare public rebuke of Arlington’s top prosecutor, the Arlington Coalition of Police this afternoon sent out a press release accusing Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti of “ineptitude” and “deflection of blame.”

The barbs stem from a 2020 case against Francis Rose, who is currently in jail in Alexandria after a series of break-ins at an apartment complex there reportedly led to two construction workers, a stepfather and stepson described as “innocent bystanders,” each being fatally shot in the head.

As ARLnow exclusively reported last week, Rose was released from Arlington County jail this past February after the 2020 case against him fell apart when a judge ruled that evidence was obtained during an unconstitutional search of his bag. With the gun and the drugs allegedly found in Rose’s bag disallowed as evidence, prosecutors dropped the charges against him, including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Rose spent nearly two years in jail awaiting trial before being freed when charges were dropped.

“As court records show, our office attempted to proceed on those charges, but during a suppression hearing, a judge ruled that the police had performed an unconstitutional search and, as the law required, suppressed the evidence in the case,” Dehghani-Tafti told ARLnow last week. “Obviously, we could not prove a case without the evidence, and therefore dismissed it.”

“My heart breaks for the families and loved ones of the people killed this weekend,” she added.

Dehghani-Tafti subsequently said on Twitter, in response to criticism from the Virginia Republican party, that she’s “not casting blame on anyone” for the case falling apart.

The Arlington Coalition of Police, however, suggests that Dehghani-Tafti should be taking more of the blame, accusing her of “attempting to throw police officers under the bus for a lost [evidence] suppression hearing.”

The full statement from the union is below.

Commonwealth Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti’s recent statements regarding the suppression hearing for Francis Rose, intentionally worded to cast fault on the officers involved, were based on self-preservation and deflection of blame.  Unlike the Commonwealth Attorney, the Arlington Coalition of Police ordered the transcript of the hearing to have a full understanding of what happened before making public comment.

Prior to the hearing, the Assistant Commonwealth Attorney handling the case believed there would be “no problem” regarding the suppression and believed the officer’s actions were lawful.  At the time of the suppression hearing, Mr. Rose had spent approximately two years in jail awaiting trial. The Commonwealth Attorney opposed giving him bond on multiple occasions.  If the Commonwealth Attorney believed the actions of the officers were unlawful, opposing bond and holding Mr. Rose for two years would be unethical.

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Two people were killed in the 200 block of Century Drive on Saturday, July 16 (staff photo by James Cullum)

(Updated at 4:30 p.m. on 7/20/22) The man arrested after the fatal shooting of two construction workers in Alexandria over the weekend was set to be tried for weapons and drug charges in Arlington earlier this year, but charges were dropped.

The reason: a ruling that police conducted an unconstitutional search prior to a 2020 arrest.

Francis Deonte Rose, 27, has so far only been charged with burglary in connection to an incident earlier Saturday morning at an Alexandria apartment complex, the scene of the double murder, but additional charges are expected.

Police say two workers, ages 48 and 24, were shot in the head and were “innocent bystanders to the whole situation.” Officers had been called to the Assembly Alexandria apartment complex around 7:30 a.m. Saturday for reports of someone kicking in the doors at “multiple” apartments, our sister site ALXnow reported yesterday.

Alexandria police radio traffic at the time suggested that the burglary suspect was the ex-boyfriend of an apartment resident and known to carry a gun.

Rose, meanwhile, has a history of gun charges. In 2019, a then-24-year-old Rose was arrested by Metropolitan Police in D.C. and charges with Carrying a Pistol without a License, Bench Warrant, Possession of Unregistered Ammunition, and Possession of an Unregistered Firearm.

The .45 caliber handgun he was allegedly carrying in the Columbia Heights neighborhood was confiscated, according to an MPD press release.

In October 2020, Rose was arrested again, this time in Arlington.

From Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage:

At approximately 10:23 p.m. on October 17, 2020, officers conducted a traffic stop in the 2300 block of Richmond Highway for a suspended operator’s license. During the course of the investigation, the passenger was found to be in possession of narcotics and a loaded handgun and ammunition were located in a bag alleged to belong to the passenger. Francis Rose, 25, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance (x2), Possession of a Firearm while in Possession of a Controlled Substance (x2), Possession of a Firearm as a Convicted Felon, Possession of Ammunition as a Convicted Felon and Carrying a Concealed Weapon.

Rose was charged with possession of cocaine and intent to manufacture, sell or distribute fentanyl, according to court documents, as well as possession of a gun and ammunition by someone convicted of a felony within the past 10 years.

The charges against Francis Rose, which were then dropped

A grand jury indicted Rose in September 2021, and he was set for a jury trial this past February when defense attorneys made a motion to suppress evidence in the case.

That motion was granted by Arlington Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman, according to court records, and charges were then dropped for a lack of evidence. Rose was later freed.

In all, he was in the county jail from Oct. 18, 2020 until Feb. 23, 2022, according to the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.

Reached via email by ARLnow, Arlington and Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said the case was made impossible to prosecute after the judge’s ruling.

“As court records show, our office attempted to proceed on those charges, but during a suppression hearing, a judge ruled that the police had performed an unconstitutional search and, as the law required, suppressed the evidence in the case,” the county’s top prosecutor said. “Obviously, we could not prove a case without the evidence, and therefore dismissed it.”

“My heart breaks for the families and loved ones of the people killed this weekend,” Dehghani-Tafti said.

Asked about the case, an Arlington police spokeswoman said “ACPD does not opine on decisions made by the court.”

The defense motion to suppress the evidence, obtained by ARLnow from the circuit court after the initial publication of this article, argues that both the drugs and the guns should be excluded from any jury trial. It says that officers found the gun in a bag that Rose was wearing but ordered by officers to leave in the car. The bag was then searched and the gun found, followed by the discovery of “a small quantity” of drugs, the motion says.

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Morning Notes

Sunset along Columbia Pike near the construction site for the Arlington National Cemetery expansion by the US Air Force Memorial (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Man Arrested for Fairfax Murder — “A man was arrested in connection to the homicide of 32-year-old DonorSee founder Gret Glyer, according to Fairfax City Police officials. Joshua Danehower, 33, of Arlington, Va., was arrested at Dulles International Airport Tuesday night. He was charged with second-degree murder in connection with Glyer’s death, according to police. He was also charged with one count of use of a firearm during the commission of a felony.” [WJLA, Fox News]

Air Quality Warning Today — “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued a Code ORANGE Air Quality Alert Thursday for Northern Virginia. A Code Orange Air Quality Alert means that air pollution concentrations within the region may become unhealthy for sensitive groups.” [National Weather Service]

Wardian Powering Through Dozens of Audiobooks — Achieving his Forrest Gump-esque goal of running some 3,000 miles coast-to-coast is not the only feat Arlington resident and decorated ultramarathoner Michael Wardian has tallied over the past couple of months. He says he has also listened to at least 35 audiobooks on 2x speed while on the journey. [NBC 4]

AIM ‘Coming Out Party’ Tonight — “The AIM and WERA teams invite you to join us tomorrow to celebrate our exciting new direction and plans! Come out and meet our new staff, learn about amazing programs and classes, and see how you can be a part of the future of inclusive public media in Arlington! Mix, mingle, meet Ms. Gay Arlington, dance to the tunes of drag queen DJ’s Katja and Giorgio — and have fun!” [Eventbrite]

Kitchen Fire and Power Outage in Ballston — “Kitchen fire at Uncle Julio’s. Sounds minor but the restaurant was evacuated, per scanner. There’s also a power outage in the area, affecting more than 600 Dominion customers, per the company’s outage map.” [Twitter]

Big Response to Gun Brandishing — A man allegedly brandished a gun in a Pentagon City apartment building lobby yesterday afternoon, prompting a big police response. [Twitter, Twitter]

It’s Thursday — Clear throughout the day. High of 88 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:48 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Two people were arrested along Columbia Pike today after a man was shot to death Saturday morning a few blocks away.

Arlington County police say a 46-year-old woman has been charged with murder and a 48-year-old man was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in connection to the death of 45-year-old D.C. resident Reginald Scott, who was found dead in a parked car.

The suspects were arrested Sunday morning at a bus stop at Columbia Pike and S. Quincy Street. Witnesses described to ARLnow a “heavy police presence and crime scene tape” across a two-block stretch of the Pike after the arrests.

Scott was found dead about four blocks, shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday, inside a car that was parked in a business parking lot on the 3600 block of the Pike.

No motive for the killing has been released.

More on today’s arrest from an ACPD press release:

The preliminary investigation into the suspicious death indicates the victim, Reginald Scott, 45, of Washington D.C., suffered an apparent gunshot wound. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death. This incident is being investigated as a homicide.

During the course of the investigation, detectives developed possible suspect descriptions based on evidence located at the scene and witness interviews. Arrest warrants were obtained and the suspects were located near a bus stop at Columbia Pike and S. Quincy Street on the morning of February 27. They were taken into custody without incident. April Puckett, 46, of No Fixed Address has been charged with Murder, Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony and Felon in Possession of a Firearm. James Harris, 48, of No Fixed Address has been charged with Conspiracy to Commit Murder. The suspects are being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Detectives continue to investigate the events that preceded the homicide. Anyone with information that may assist with this investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected]

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Gavel (Flickr photo by Joe Gratz)

An Arlington County jury found a 66-year-old man guilty on Monday of killing his son in Green Valley in 2020.

Marshall Stephens Jr., 45, was found alone in his vehicle in the 1900 block of S. Lowell Street with a single gunshot wound to the back of his head on April 23, 2020. His father — Marshall Stephens — was found guilty of first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Stephens, who is scheduled to be sentenced April 1, faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and maximum of life behind bars for the murder charge and a minimum of three years for the firearm charge, prosecutors say.

“While there is nothing we can do to bring back Marshall Stephens, Jr., we are grateful for the jury’s verdict and attention to this case,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. “We hope this helps bring some level of closure to the surviving victims as they continue their difficult healing process.”

The full press release from the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney is below.

On Monday January 24, 2022, an Arlington County jury unanimously found Marshall Stephens, 66, guilty of first degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Stephens was found guilty in connection with the April 23, 2020, shooting of his 45-year-old son, Marshall Stephens, Jr. in the Green Valley neighborhood of Arlington. The victim was found alone in his vehicle, with a single gunshot wound to the back of his head.

Successful prosecution was possible because of a careful investigation on the part of the Arlington County Police Department and collaboration between ACPD and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

“While there is nothing we can do to bring back Marshall Stephens, Jr., we are grateful for the jury’s verdict and attention to this case,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. “We hope this helps bring some level of closure to the surviving victims as they continue their difficult healing process.”

First degree murder carries a statutory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison; use of a firearm in the commission of a felony carries a statutory minimum sentence of 3 years.

Stephens is scheduled to be sentenced on April 1, 2022, in the Arlington County Circuit Court.

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Morning Notes

Arrests in Cold Case MurderUpdated at 7:50 a.m. — “The Arlington County Police Department’s Cold Case Unit is announcing James Christopher Johnson, 59, of Alexandria, Va, and Bobby Joe Leonard, 53, have been charged in relation to the 1998 homicide of Andrea Cincotta in the Colonial Village neighborhood. Mr. Johnson is being held without bond at the Arlington County Detention Center and Mr. Leonard is being held on unrelated charges at Wallens Ridge State Prison. On August 21, 1998, 52-year-old Andrea Cincotta was found dead inside the bedroom of the apartment she shared with Mr. Johnson in the 1700 block of N. Rhodes Street.” [Washington Post, ACPD]

Cool Reception for Climate Emergency Push — “A proposal by two local environmental groups that the Arlington County government declare a ‘climate-change emergency’ received the back of the hand, albeit politely delivered, from County Board members on Nov. 13… ‘We hear you… but understand that we are not able to declare an emergency that gives the local government broader power,’ [said] County Board member Christian Dorsey.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Friday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 47. Northwest wind 11 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Sunrise at 6:56 a.m. and sunset at 4:51 p.m. Increasing clouds Saturday, with a high near 49. A slight chance of showers after 1 p.m. Sunday, but otherwise mostly cloudy with a high near 55. [Weather.gov]

Photo courtesy Tom Mockler/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Grand Opening for Big Rosslyn Development — “Real estate developer Penzance welcomed Arlington County officials to the grand opening of The Highlands, a mixed-use project in Rosslyn at the top of the hill on Wilson Boulevard. The Highlands, a 1.2-million-square-foot development, consists of three high-rise residences — named Pierce, Aubrey and Evo — with views of the D.C. area and several amenities. ‘We’re proud to be here today welcoming these 890 new residences, exciting retailers, Fire Station 10 and the beautiful Rosslyn Highlands Park.'” [Patch]

Reward Boosted in Ballston Murder Case — “The Ratigan family is announcing an increase in their reward fund from $25,000 to $50,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) responsible for Scott Ratigan’s homicide on January 17, 2020. Detectives continue to follow-up on any and all investigative leads in this case and remind the public that any information, regardless of how small it may seem, could be the tip that leads to justice on behalf of Scott and the Ratigan family.” [ACPD]

Retired Police K-9 Dies — “With great sadness, ACPD announces the passing of retired K9 Drago, a 14 year-old old German Shepard, Belgian Malinois mix. He loyally served Arlington from 2008 to 2019 as a patrol and narcotics detection K9. We kindly ask that you keep him and his handler in your thoughts.” [Twitter]

APS Getting Ready for Kid Vax Approval — “APS continues to work with the County on plans for rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine to students ages 5-11 once it is approved, which we anticipate very soon. Once approved, we will inform the community about the availability of doses and how to schedule appointments. Arlington County Public Health anticipates holding clinics and scheduling vaccinations by appointment, hopefully by mid-November. We will keep families informed as new information is received.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Man Seen Stealing GOP Signs — “We’ve received reports of stolen yard signs, and — while we appreciate your updates — almost none of those are actionable because the tipsters don’t provide us any physical/visual evidence. But kudos to one resourceful sleuth, who provided us with these fairly clear photos of a guy taking down Youngkin signs in Arlington last night.” [Arlington GOP, Twitter]

In Defense of Audrey’s Age Answer — “Apparently what happened is that the paper wanted candidates to fill out online questionnaires, and the computerized program didn’t allow respondents to skip the ‘age’ question. So Clement wrote in a younger figure as something of a protest in requiring candidates to answer a question she feels is inappropriate. From this, the Post tried to make a big deal. Turns out the Posties, as is often the case, missed the context. Clement wasn’t lying to them, as they contend. She was f*cking with them. A big difference.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Artist Performs on NPR — From National Public Radio: “The Tiny Desk is back… sort of. The first concert recorded at Bob Boilen’s desk since March 2020 is 2021 Tiny Desk Contest winner Neffy!” [Twitter]

It’s Thursday — Today will be partly sunny, with a high near 65, getting progressively cloudier throughout the day. Sunrise at 7:31 a.m. and sunset at 6:11 p.m. Tomorrow (Friday) will be rainy and windy, with storms and flooding possible. Expect a high near 63.

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Gavel (Flickr photo by Joe Gratz)

An Arlington man has been sentenced to decades in prison for killing a man in the Douglas Park neighborhood three years ago.

Michael Nash, 29, is set to spend nearly 35 years behind bars. Five years and one month of the 40 years sentence was suspended. Nash will have five years of supervised probation.

Earlier this summer, Nash pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing Arlington resident Patricio Salazar, who had tried to intervene when he found Nash sexually and physically assaulting his then-girlfriend. Other charges, including forcible sodomy and robbery, were dropped as part of the agreement.

“It was the most accurate charge for the most serious conduct, and it had the support of the other victims,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said.

At a 2019 hearing, Nash’s then-girlfriend told a judge that they argued loudly enough for police to come, but were allowed to leave together after separate interviews, the Washington Post reported. They continued walking and ended up on near Doctor’s Run Park.

That’s when Nash “pushed her to the ground and began beating her, stripping her of her clothing and touching her sexually,” the Post reports.

Salazar tried to stop him, but Nash beat him and knocked him unconscious, police said at the time. Salazar was transported to George Washington University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Nash fled the scene and robbed a woman of her cell phone, police previously said. Officers and a police helicopter eventually apprehended Nash near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.

Salazar’s sister Loty launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to honor her brother’s life and raise money for three organizations that support victims of sexual assault in the U.S. and Bolivia. It brought in more than $30,000. Bradley Flood, a witness, also raised money for the family.

His sister remembered Salazar as “one of the most kindhearted and genuine people I have ever met.”

“And, as he showed by his final act of great courage, he was a man of integrity and character, who believed in doing the right thing no matter what the cost,” she wrote.

Flood wrote that it chills him to think what would have happened if Salazar had not intervened.

“He is a Good Samaritan if there ever was one,” he said.

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Morning Notes

Pro-Reopening Parent Group Incorporates — “An advocacy organization born of the fight to bring Arlington students back into classrooms has formalized its status as a lobbying group. Arlington Parents for Education has incorporated under Section 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code, giving it tax-exempt status while allowing it to engage in limited political-advocacy efforts.” [Sun Gazette]

Ballston Pierogi Eatery Expanding — “The rebranded Rogi restaurant currently operates out of a kiosk in the Ballston Quarter food hall, where it set up shop in December. Another counter-order location will open in Leesburg’s Chefscape food hall and culinary incubator on Friday, September 10. Hardy is also planning a Tysons branch in the Urbanspace food hall at Tysons Galleria shopping mall, which will likely open by the end of the year.” [Washingtonian]

Murder Near Bailey’s Crossroads — “A man reported missing on Monday in Fairfax County, Virginia, was found dead Wednesday, and police said they have arrested his son on second-degree murder charges. The Fairfax County police said 78-year-old Truman Nguyen was last seen on Sunday and was reported missing on Monday… Police later received a tip that a body might be buried in the yard of Nguyen’s house on the 3300 block of Nevius Street.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Pentagon City Suspect Charged With Murder — “Taya Ashton, 20, was found shot to death at an apartment in the 2300 block of Brooks Drive in Suitland on Saturday night, Prince George’s County police said. A day after her slaying, Arlington County police arrested DeAllen Price, of District Heights, for running from officers and going on the Metro tracks at the Pentagon City station, police said… Metro Transit Police and a K9 officer searched the tracks and found a weapon they later linked to Ashton’s murder, police said.” [NBC 4]

Gunston Bubble Going Bye-Bye — “The iconic, yet temperamental, sports ‘bubble’ adjacent to Gunston Middle School will soon be replaced by a barn-like framed structure that will provide more reliability and accessibility, Arlington government officials said. County Board members have approved a contract worth up to $866,800 for installation of the new Clear Span frame-supported fabric structure, which had been purchased previously.” [Sun Gazette]

WeWork, WeLive No Longer Together — “WeWork has washed its hands of WeLive, the co-living brand it launched a half-decade ago with grand aspirations. WeWork handed over management of the two WeLive locations, in Northern Virginia’s Crystal City neighborhood and on Wall Street in Manhattan, to the owners of the buildings, JBG Smith and Rudin Management, a WeWork spokesperson confirmed to Bisnow Wednesday.” [Bisnow]

Cunningham Tapped as AHC’s Interim CEO — “The affordable-housing provider AHC Inc. has tapped Arlington civic leader [and former Arlington County Board candidate] Susan Cunningham as its interim CEO. Cunningham will bridge the gap left by the departure of long-term organization leader Walter Webdale.” [Sun Gazette]

Interview with APS DEI Chief — “We sat down with Arlington Public Schools Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Arron Gregory to talk about the importance of roles like his in schools… How is the school system’s success in these matters ultimately measured? ‘… if we’re unable to predict student success by identities, such as race, class, gender, socioeconomic status, then we’ve achieved educational equity, but if we’re able to predict those outcomes, then there’s work that still needs to happen.'” [WJLA]

Editorial Lauds Lee Highway Renaming — “The symbolism that attends the struggle for racial justice and recognition could hardly be better served than by paying tribute, as the newly named roadway does, to John M. Langston, a man who, in the words of his biographer, ‘was Obama before Obama.’ A century and a half before, as it happens.” [Washington Post]

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