Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) A large group of demonstrators blocked the outbound 14th Street Bridge between D.C. and Arlington during the evening rush hour.

Protesters were sitting down across the main southbound bridge span, according to D.C. police, but then started marching towards Arlington. The group — said to number in the hundreds — previously marched from the area around the Jefferson Memorial, according to scanner traffic.

Arlington County fire department medics were dispatched to the bridge at the request of Virginia State Police for a report of a protester who is dehydrated.

Drivers should expect delays in the area, though the outbound HOV lanes remained open. Police are on scene monitoring the demonstration.

Public safety watchdog Dave Statter broadcast live video of the protest, which as of 4:35 p.m. appeared to be winding down. Demonstrators, holding signs and flags, could be seen marching back toward D.C. Lanes reopened at 4:50 p.m.

The protest is related to the persecution of an ethnic group in Ethiopia, according to social media posts. It does not appear to be associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Morning Notes

March Planned Tonight in Crystal City — “This Tuesday (6/30) we will be gathering in Crystal City Courtyard Green to march to Pentagon City in defense of Black womxn.” [Twitter]

Petition for APS to Require Masks — “To maximize the chances of success for Arlington Public Schools (Virginia) hybrid return to school model we urge the School Board and Superintendent Dr. Francisco Dur√°n to make face coverings compulsory for both students and teachers during the days they are at school for in-person learning. Those who object to wearing masks can always choose the distance-learning option.” [Change.org]

Local Church to Feed Thousands — “On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, Our Lady Queen of Peace (OLQP) in south Arlington is working with Jos√© Andr√©s’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) to feed families in need of food assistance. World Central Kitchen is providing 3,500 meals to OLQP for distribution to the community. Meals will be offered to take home in conjunction with pre-packed food the OLQP food pantry distributes every Wednesday morning. This is the second time WCK will be providing meals to OLQP during the pandemic.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]

Catholic Churches Enter ‘Phase 3’ — “All 70 parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will move into phase three of Virginia’s reopening plan on Wednesday.¬†Officials announced Monday that each parish is ‘able, but not mandated, to celebrate public Mass with capacity restrictions lifted’ beginning on July 1.” [Fox 5]

County Adjusts Committee Meeting Rules — “After facing a rebellion from members and chairs of advisory commissions, the Arlington County Board has revised rules for holding meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps the two biggest changes from the original plans: Commission chairs (apparently) will no longer have to seek county-staff permission to hold meetings. Advisory-group meetings will be allowed in-person or in a hybrid format, in addition to the previously announced “virtual”-only arrangement.” [InsideNova]

New Construction Contract for VHC Inked — “Skanska USA has inked more work with Virginia Hospital Center as the Arlington hospital soldiers on with its $250 million expansion project. The construction company said Monday it signed a contract worth $96 million for site work for the new outpatient pavilion and parking garage at the hospital. That’s on top of a $37 million contract with VHC¬†it grabbed late last year.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Hundreds of union members are expected to participate in a caravan from Ballston to the U.S. Capitol around lunchtime Wednesday.

The¬†Workers First¬†Caravan¬†for Racial and Economic Justice¬†is being organized by a number of major labor organizations. Participants will be gathering at the Ballston public parking garage at 627 N. Glebe Road — plus a second staging site in Silver Spring, Maryland — to affix signs to their vehicles. At 11:45 a.m., they will drive to and circle the Capitol building in D.C.

“More than one thousand union members will travel to Washington, D.C. for the¬†Workers First¬†Caravan¬†for Racial and Economic Justice, the headline event of a massive national mobilization with hundreds of actions calling for bold policies to confront the three crises facing America: a public health pandemic, an economic free fall and long-standing structural racism,” organizers said in a statement.

“Representing those employed in health care, public education, public service, hospitality and more, workers will call on lawmakers to act now to save our nation, save our economy and save workers’ lives,” the statement continues. “The Workers First¬†Caravan¬†is organized by AFSCME, AFT, IUPAT, IBT, UFCW, UNITE HERE and the AFL-CIO.”

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Morning Notes

Black Lives Matter Protest Held Saturday — “As protests continue around the nation following the death of George Floyd, the Black Parents of Arlington group welcomed families and neighbors on Saturday for a special gathering and vigil for the man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in May. Over 100 people gathered at Drew Model Elementary School, some bringing signs while others wore shirts and face masks showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement.” [WUSA 9]

Dorsey Discusses ‘Defund’ Demands — “‘We’re getting a lot of letters with the ‘defund the police’ calls,’ says [County Board member Christian Dorsey, on the WAMU Politics Hour]. He says that over the past few years, the police budget has only risen slightly above inflation. He said he’d be open to cutting tactical weapons and gear.” [Twitter]

Pentagon Entering ‘Phase 1’ Today — “Pentagon and Pentagon Facilities Employees: This Mon., June 15, begins Phase One of re-entering the buildings. Welcome back! Don’t forget your face covering and to social distance while inside.” [Twitter]

Current COVID-19 Hospitalizations Fall¬†— “Fewer than 1,000 Virginians are now hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, and the number of cases continued to slow both statewide and in Northern Virginia, according to reports Saturday morning. The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported only 959 coronavirus patients in state hospitals, the lowest number since the organization began providing data in early April… Only 342 of those patients were in Northern Virginia, down from a high of 818 on April 30.” [InsideNova]

County Expanding Free Wi-Fi Spots — “Arlington residents can now access free Wi-Fi¬†in¬†the parking lots of the¬†Charles Drew¬†Community Center¬†and¬†Barcroft¬†Sports & Fitness Center¬†as part of the County’s ongoing effort to help residents without reliable internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.¬†Along with these two new locations, public¬†Wi-Fi¬†is¬†available¬†via the¬†ArlingtonWireless¬†network¬†in the parking lots at Aurora Hills, Central and Columbia Pike libraries.” [Arlington County]

PTAs to Distribute Face Masks — “County staff from a variety of departments packing up more than 4,300 cloth face covers for [Arlington Public Schools] PTAs to distribute to families. Face covering is required in Virginia public indoor spaces. ” [Twitter]

Restaurants Seek Expanded Outdoor Dining Spaces — “Arlington County has allowed 19 restaurants to add new space for outdoor dining or expand existing options, as part of the¬†growing trend of shifting tables outside¬†and allowing safer dining while the Covid-19 pandemic persists…¬†Through June 9, the county has seen a total of 66 applications and approved just under a third of them.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo courtesy Jean and James Knaack

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Following protests over the killing of George Floyd, there’s now a national movement to #DefundThePolice.

Most proponents say they want to redirect a portion of sizable police budgets to social services, investing in community rather than punishment.

The idea has yet to catch on with most Americans. Nearly two-thirds of respondents to a recent survey opposed reducing police funding.

Here in Arlington, the police department makes up about 5% of the county’s general fund, less than that of the Dept. of Human Services, which provides health, housing and social services help. Aside from the decision to send officers to help control protests in D.C., at the request of U.S. Park Police, the police department has faced few major, recent controversies.

(There have been four officer-involved shootings in Arlington over the past decade, all deemed justified uses of force in subsequent investigations. Complaints against police¬†rose in 2019, but remained relatively low given Arlington’s population.)

In the upcoming 2020-2021 budget, ACPD will get a slight boost in funding, to just under $75 million. With less funding for the department in subsequent budgets, more could be spent on social services and community programs. With more funding, ACPD might be able to increase training and provide body cameras to all officers.

What do you think should be done?

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Morning Notes

Rent Protest Today — Starting at the shopping center parking lot at 5001 Columbia Pike, a caravan of cars adorned with signs will travel to local apartment complexes to support “rent cancellation during this pandemic plus two months following the ability for community members to work and pay rent,” among other aims. The protest is being organized by¬†La ColectiVA and other groups. [Facebook]

Animal Control Rescues Turtle from I-395 — “A few days ago, we got a call about a turtle very close to traffic on I-395. When Sgt Ballena arrived, he found a young snapping turtle who’s beak was fractured and bleeding. He took the turtle to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, who will care for him until he can be released.” [Twitter]

Arlington Officers Injured During D.C. Protests — Despite an earlier comment by the police chief that no officers were injured, “a¬†spokesperson for Arlington County Police told us, ‘one Arlington officer suffered a concussion and several others suffered bruises and abrasions.'” [WUSA 9]

Home Sales Downs, Prices Up — “May is usually one of the best months for housing sales, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of listings sidelined many potential buyers. The D.C. area had its slowest May for sales in a decade. But more sellers stepped up from April and prices continue to rise year-over-year…¬†The median price of what sold in Arlington County was $622,500, up 1.2% from last May.” [WTOP]

Could HQ2 Be Downsized? — Amazon prizes in-person interactions among employees, but there are still questions as to whether the company will proceed with the second phase of its 4+ million square foot permanent second headquarters in Pentagon City. [Washington Business Journal]

Orange Line Platform Work Moving Along — “Two weeks into the summer shutdown, construction activity is well underway at Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations. So far, construction crews have focused on demolition work, including the removal of all tiles from the platforms, mezzanines and pedestrian bridges.” [WMATA]

Two Recent Drownings Near Chain Bridge — While D.C. Fire and EMS warns of dangerous waters near the Chain Bridge, the department said another grim discovery was made Thursday. “There have been 2 drownings in the past 3 weeks near Chain Bridge and a body was recovered today,” DCFEMS said. [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Death of WeLive? — “WeWork is exploring ending its push into communal living, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The New York-based office-sharing company is working with an adviser and holding talks about handing over operations of its WeLive location in Crystal City, near Washington D.C.” [Bloomberg]

No Fair This Summer? — “Whether the Arlington County Fair will be held as scheduled in August, and how it might change due to the impacts of COVID-19, remain an open question. ‘We continue to closely monitor the evolving situation and are committed to following the facts and recommendations provided by public-health officials,’ organizers of the fair said.” [InsideNova]

School Decision Expected by July 4 — “Arlington students, parents and teachers should know by the 4th of July what the county school system’s plan is for re-starting classes in the fall. In-person classroom instruction ‘is the goal we want to get to,’ new Superintendent Francisco Dur√°n told School Board members on June 4, but he was not ready to commit to having students back in class when the school year begins Aug. 31.” [InsideNova]

Gyms CrossFit Weigh in on Founder’s Comments — Since the founder of CrossFit posted a controversial tweet, CrossFit gyms across the country — including in Arlington — have been posting statements to distance themselves from him. Greg Glassman has since resigned as the CEO of CrossFit. [Instagram, Instagram]

Local Nordstrom Stores Reopening Tomorrow — “Arlington residents hoping for a little retail therapy will soon have their desires granted, at least as far as one local clothing chain is concerned. The Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores in Pentagon City¬†will reopen for customers¬†on Thursday, according to a company release.” [Patch]

Axios Covering Fees for Protesting Employees — “Arlington County-based digital media company Axios distributed a companywide email stating that it would cover bail or medical bills for employees who have participated in recent protests associated with the police killing of George Floyd,¬†The New York Times first reported Tuesday.” [Virginia Business]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Following a week filled with marches and protests in Arlington, at least two more events are planned today.

One of the events is being organized by a pair of groups that largely serve the immigrant community. Another is being organized by four churches and a local civic association. Both events are being held to demand justice and to defend black lives.

The first is being from 5-6 p.m. along Wilson Blvd in the Boulevard Manor and Dominion Hills neighborhoods. From a press release:

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 9th, four congregations will come together in Arlington in a witness for justice on behalf of black lives.   The action will be centered along Wilson Boulevard on Tuesday, June 9th, from 5-6pm.

We will park and gather at the Arlington Community Church (6040 Wilson Boulevard) before moving to Wilson Boulevard at 5 pm.

We wish to observe safe social distancing so we will be standing six feet apart along Wilson Boulevard in silent witness, simply holding up signs of support from 5 pm to 6 pm. We ask that everyone wear facemasks and that every effort be made to maintain social distancing.

Hosted by the members of Boulevard Manor Civic Association, Arlington Church of the Brethren, Bethel United Church of Christ, Arlington Community Church, and Rock Spring United Church of Christ.

“We recognize the pervasive sin of white supremacy as something that people with privilege benefit from or participate in daily,” the organizers quoted from a recent¬†Arlington Interfaith Network statement.¬†“Communities of spirituality and faith with privilege need to use their place to have sacred conversations on race, and work for real change.”

At 7 p.m. tonight, La ColectiVA and Tenants and Workers United will hold a rally — dubbed Cacerolazo for Black Lives — in Arlington’s Tyrol Hill Park (5101 7th Road S.), in memory of George Floyd and others.

From an event description:

Join us for a Cacerolazo (pots and pans rally) for Black Lives – Tuesday, June 9 at 7pm. This rally will be in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and demands for accountability for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and countless others who have lost their lives to white supremacy and police violence, including here in Virginia.

We’ll gather at Tyrol Hill Park, Tuesday at 7PM.

Please:
-Wear a face covering
-Maintain physical distancing
-Bring your pots and pans
-Bring signs that say #BlackLivesMatter #DefundPolice #DefendBlackLives #InvestInCommunities

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An estimated 3,300 people participated in a series of marches and protests in Arlington on Saturday, some later marching into D.C. and joining the more than 10,000 demonstrators in the District.

The protesters demanded justice for George Floyd and other victims of police violence. They also demanded policy changes and “meaningful and urgent reforms for racial justice.”

Marches held signs saying “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Killing Us.” They braved the day’s heat and most wore masks to protect fellow marchers during the pandemic.

One march went from Columbia Pike to a protest event in Ballston, before continuing on to a larger event in front of county government headquarters in Courthouse, where county officials, activists and members of the local NAACP spoke. From there, many went on to march into D.C. via the Memorial Bridge, escorted along the way by Arlington County police.

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(Updated at 11:15 p.m.) Hundreds — perhaps more than a thousand — braved 90 degree weather to march from Courthouse to Clarendon and back Thursday evening.

Police closed portions of Wilson and Clarendon boulevards at the marchers held signs and chanted slogans like “no justice, no peace.”

The demonstration started at 5 p.m. and was organized “in solidarity with those across the nation asking for justice for George Floyd and those who have been directed affected by systemic racism,” according to a social media post.

“This will be a peaceful march. If you feel as if you can’t express yourself in a peaceful manner, please just stay home,” organizers wrote. “We encourage all to make signs to express their feelings towards the injustices that have been going on throughout our country.”

Another large rally and march is scheduled to take place Courthouse on Saturday.

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(Updated at 10:40 p.m.) A number of peaceful marches against racism and in support of Black Lives Matter are planned in Arlington through Sunday.

The first will be taking place from 5-7 p.m. today (Thursday), marching from the county parking lot in Courthouse to Clarendon to demand justice for George Floyd¬†“and those who have been directly affected by systemic racism.” Some county offices are closing early¬†due to expected crowds.

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ARLINGTON FRIENDS: I have no part in organizing this but there is a protest organized for tomorrow! I made these graphics for personal sharing and all the information is pulled directly from the description so I am taking no credit in anything but feel free to use this as a shareable resource to get the word out! (If any Arlington friends would like an invite to the private Facebook event shoot me a DM!! only doing people I know) . Any other creatives with similar resources please feel free to share! . For those coming out tomorrow make sure to do your research on how to stay safe! I’ll try to compile some more helpful tools relatable for Arlington! And remember #blacklivesmatter

A post shared by Jas Pineda (@jasmelon.journal) on

Another is planned Friday evening, in memory of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by Louisville, Kentucky police officers in March.

Demonstrators will march from Bob & Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike to the county courthouse, starting at 6 p.m., according to social media posts.

The third march is planned Saturday from noon-5 p.m. and is expected to be a “large scale event.” The march will go from Courthouse to the White House, via Rosslyn and the Lincoln and MLK memorials in D.C.

From an event page on social media:

Arlingtonians are coming together to stand in solidarity in a peaceful protest against racial oppression.

We will convene at the Arlington Courthouse at noon on Saturday, June 6 and march together past the Iwo Jima Memorial and across the Memorial Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King Memorial. From there, we will march up to Lafayette Park to join peaceful protests demanding meaningful and urgent reforms for racial justice.

All are welcome and loved. Bring a mask and join us!

The local branch of the NAACP will be participating, the group said in a statement. The marching will be preceded by a rally from noon-1 p.m. in front of county government headquarters at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.

“Elected officials and members from the Arlington Branch NAACP, community activists, and elected leaders will be in attendance,” the organization said. “This is expected to be a large scale event and expect 250-500 attendees.”

County Board members Christian Dorsey and Libby Garvey, along with 1776 co-founder Evan Burfield, are listed a co-hosts on the Facebook event page for the Saturday march.

ARLINGTON MARCH FOR BLACK LIVESI know many of you have been moved by the events of the past few weeks and the need to…

Posted by Evan Burfield on Thursday, June 4, 2020

Prior to the rally, a march from the Columbia Pike Branch Library to Ballston and then Courthouse is planned, starting at 10 a.m. at Welburn Square in Ballston, marchers will pause “to say the names of those who have lost their lives at the hands of police brutality and hold space to reflect as a community.”

On Sunday, another protest march is planned from 5-7 p.m., starting at¬†Green Valley Pharmacy (2415 Shirlington Road). The march will “support #BlackLivesMatter as well as gun violence awareness.”

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