Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Amazon Makes Local Donations — Amazon has made a some substantial recent donations to local charitable organizations. Arlington-based Doorways for Women and Families received $100,000 from Amazon “in COVID-19 relief to keep survivors safe in housing and hotels,” while newly-created Project Headphones received $75,000, which “allows us to get headphones with mics for all grade levels in @APSVirginia.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Clement Blasts ‘Missing Middle’ Housing — “‘Missing middle’ may be two words totaling 13 letters, but depending on which side of the Arlington political divide you are on, it may qualify as a single four-letter word. The proposed housing policy, which in theory aims to find ways to stop Arlington from becoming an enclave of the very wealthy with some low-cost housing thrown in as fig leaf, came under withering attack from a veteran campaigner during the recent Arlington Committee of 100 County Board debate.” [InsideNova]

Food Hall Coming to Rosslyn Development — “The first level of the new concept will include a bodega that carries everyday essentials and prepared food for dine-in or to-go. The second level will offer seven food stalls, including an oyster bar, coffee bar and diner concept. There will also be access to a main bar, full-service dining area and a communal work lounge.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Offering Free Online Job Training — “City of Alexandria and Arlington County residents can get free job skills training online as part of ‘Skill-Up City of Alexandria and Arlington County,’ an initiative of the Alexandria/Arlington Regional Workforce Council, Alexandria Workforce Development Center, and Arlington Employment Center. The online classes are funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.” [Arlington County]

Recollection of Racism in Arlington — “There was a time, Araya recalled, when Blacks couldn’t walk along the north side of Columbia Pike without getting frisked by police. So for an African American to walk from Green Valley to see friends in Halls Hill, ‘You had to know the route through white neighborhoods. It was like the Green Book for Arlington.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Cemetery Likely to Get Historic Status — “The cemetery at Mount Salvation Baptist Church in Arlington is now virtually assured of becoming a local historic district. The county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) has approved the nomination, setting the stage for public hearings before the Planning Commission and County Board.” [InsideNova]

Local Man Convicted of Embezzlement — “A well-connected Virginia financial advisor was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison for embezzling approximately $8 million from money that the U.S. government and a hospital had entrusted to him to set up annuities for 13 people who were the beneficiaries of medical malpractice settlements. Joseph Edward Gargan, owner of The Pension Co. in Arlington, Va… is a relative of the late President John F. Kennedy.” [Claims Journal]

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(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) A month and a half ago, the Arlington branch of the NAACP publicly called for the county’s logo to be changed. Over the weekend, members of the County Board voiced support for that change.

Arlington’s logo, along with its flag, depicts Arlington House, the county’s namesake that sits atop a hill in Arlington National Cemetery. The house was built by enslaved persons in the early 1800s on the orders of George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington’s adopted son.

The house was later home to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, who married into the slave-owning Custis family, before the property was seized by the federal government during the Civil War and ultimately turned into the nation’s most hallowed military cemetery.

Julius Spain, Sr., head of the Arlington NAACP, spoke at Saturday’s County Board meeting and reiterated the branch’s call for the logo to be nixed — saying it should be done as soon as possible, rather than after a prolonged process.

“Let me be perfectly clear: atrocities were committed in the area of Arlington House,” he said. “That is a fact, and for that reason alone that should be enough.”

Spain’s remarks were supported by a half dozen other locals during the virtual meeting, including former Arlington School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez.

Recently-elected County Board member Takis Karantonis was the first to respond to Spain’s comments and the most forceful in agreeing that the logo has to go now.

“It is nothing more and nothing less than a plantation house, and we cannot look away from this,” Karantonis said. “This simply cannot represent our government. For sure it doesn’t represent me and I don’t think it represents any of you, my colleagues, the County Manager, our civil servants.”

Karantonis then held his County Board business card up to the camera.

“I cannot say that Black lives matter today, in this summer of 2020, and at the same time pull out a business card with a plantation house printed on it,” he said. “So I believe this is urgent and compelling, and we can… retire this logo. It is time to move on from this.”

Other County Board members who spoke agreed with the need to change the logo, but did not commit to doing so as quickly as hoped for by Spain.

“It’s critical that we begin this community conversation,” said Katie Cristol.

“Arlington’s seal and logo must be replaced as soon as is reasonably possible,” said Matt de Ferranti. “Both are visible representations of a building that’s principal legacy is as a slave plantation, and thus must be replaced to be consistent with the inclusive, diverse community we aspire to be.”

De Ferranti said the Board needs to consider the process and standard for replacing the logo, while also remaining focused on other racial justice matters.

Christian Dorsey, the only Black member of the Board, said the county must deal with systematic racism, including the logo, in a comprehensive manner.

“I’d take perhaps a broader view that there are other symbols and names in our community that predate the confederacy, that postdate the confederacy, that are nonetheless symbols of systemic racism and oppression,” Dorsey said. “To address one without addressing the other to me is beneath the capability of our community to actually move forward with a symbolic and a substantive approach to dealing with systemic racism. I hope people will be patient.”

County Board Chair Libby Garvey said the county’s logo will be the topic of further discussion during the Board’s meeting on Tuesday. Arlington is also planning community roundtable discussions on systemic racism, and has kicked off an effort to rename Lee Highway.

Spain, meanwhile, said that the county flag and street names are not nearly as meaningful as the county’s chosen logo, and the latter should take priority. In a letter, he said the Board should be able to remove the logo within 2-3 months.

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Morning Notes

Dozens March for Racial Justice — “A group of about 100 people marched more than three miles on a hot August afternoon through Arlington demanding justice for victims of police brutality and calling on the county’s elected officials to bring police reform to the county.” [Patch]

Police Investigating More KKK Stickers — “Stickers that appear to promote the Ku Klux Klan have been found on traffic signs and utility boxes in Arlington over the past month, Arlington police said… They were found between July 2 and 28 in four locations, mostly in the Yorktown neighborhood, on the back of traffic signs and on a utility box.” [Washington Post]

Big Power Outage on Saturday — “A power outage in South Arlington has about 3,000 customers without power, according to Dominion Energy. The outage is affecting several neighborhoods between Columbia Pike and Interstate 395, including Arlington Mill, Columbia Forest, Douglas Park, and Nauck.” [WJLA]

Parents Rally Against School Plan — “All 12 school jurisdictions in the D.C. area have announced their intentions to start the 2020-2021 school year virtually, and not all parents are pleased with that decision. Vienna, Va. resident Jill Gartin rallied with other parents and students today at Arlington district headquarters to make their voices heard… ‘It’s been awful because I have five kids running on one wifi. It’s draining and the kids are miserable.'” [WJLA]

Ribbon Cutting for Vida — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony last week for Vida Fitness’ new Ballston location, its first outside of D.C. It’s only the second ribbon cutting pictured on the Chamber’s Instagram account (the first was Bowlero in Crystal City) since the pandemic started. [Instagram]

Meridian Pint Fighting for Survival — “As you all may have heard, there is a possibility we may have to permanently close our doors. With the effects of Covid-19 the restaurant industry is feeling an enormous impact, Meridian Pint is no exception. We did get a Payroll Protection Loan but those funds have since been fully depleted. We are asking for your help.” [Facebook]

Nearby: MoCo May Reinstate Restrictions — “COVID-19 cases have been increasing across the state while Montgomery County’s have plateaued to about 70 to 80 new cases a day. But now officials are considering whether to reinstate some restrictions to try to decrease the virus’s spread and reduce cases.” [Bethesda Magazine]

Yes, But Where’s *This* Story? — Wondering why something that happened over the weekend was not included in Morning notes? We may be planning to cover it later today. Or, if it’s something that we might not know about, you can tell us about it for potential future coverage.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

County Getting $10K Tourism Grant — “‘Arlington will use [state tourism] grant funds to showcase outdoor adventures in an urban setting to East Coast road trippers,’ said [Arlington Convention and Visitors Service] Director Emily Cassell. In addition… ACVS will commission a photography and video shoot to expand its collection of images reflecting the County’s cultural diversity.” [Arlington County]

Marymount Signs Mutual Aid Agreement — “Marymount University has become a member of the National Intercollegiate Mutual Aid Agreement (NIMAA), one of more than 100 signatory institutions across the nation that pledge to support each other in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency.” [InsideNova]

USA Today Editor Recalls Racism in Arlington — A top former USA Today editor recalls, in an opinion column, how he was pulled over multiple times by an Arlington police officer in the mid-1980s. The traffic stops appeared to be the result of racial discrimination and intimidation. “I stopped going into Arlington proper,” the editor says of the impact of the incidents on him. “It was a small sacrifice, but it’s one of those things that you sometimes have to do when you’re black in America.” [Hot Springs Sentinel-Record]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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Arlington County is apologizing for an “unfortunate situation” — ordering three Black employees to remove a girl’s Black Lives Matter chalk art from in front of her home on Juneteenth.

A neighbor complained about the chalk creations, which included quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, leading to the county response. Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services crews will remove any such markings, regardless of the message, upon receiving a complaint, the county said.

The county issued the following statement Friday night:

We apologize for this unfortunate situation, particularly on such an important day, Juneteenth. Our crews were following policy to remove markings, regardless of the message, on County right-of-way in response to a received complaint.  None of the markings were removed from private property.

We understand the deep feelings that are present in the community. Our mission is to deliver public services based on established policies in a consistent manner. We’re reviewing our policy. Our crews take great pride in keeping Arlington clean and safe.

The action drew widespread condemnation from residents and others after a neighbor wrote about it on social media and ARLnow subsequently published an article.

On Friday night, the neighborhood’s civic association condemned the removal of the chalk art and demanded answers from the county.

“These chalk drawings were expressions of solidarity with current racial justice protests done by African-American children, and whose father is a US Navy officer,” wrote the Boulevard Manor Civic Association. “The DES employees were ‘ordered’ to power wash the children’s chalk drawings as another resident in BMCA ‘complained.’ BMCA strongly condemns, is saddened, and is disappointed in the above action taken by DES.”

The Arlington branch of the NAACP said it “sent the County Board a communication” as well.

Earlier Friday, Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey called the removal “a mistake” and “wrong.”

“It was a mistake to prioritize responding to this call during a pandemic where our workers should not be deployed unnecessarily,” Dorsey told ARLnow. “Furthermore, removal of the chalk art from a driveway apron, widely known to be the responsibility of the resident, was wrong.”

“We apologize to the residents for erasing their expressions from their property and to our workers who were directed to do it,” Dorsey continued. “That this occurred as our County gathered to reflect on the unfulfilled promise of Black liberation on Juneteenth adds further insult, and compels us to confront the role of our government in perpetuating systemic inequities. We can, must, and will do better.”

Despite rain yesterday, residents came out to support the family whose drawings were removed, adding more chalk art and quotes to the street, sidewalk and driveway. More expressions of solidarity are expected today.

“We plan to go out again to line the streets and sidewalks with messages of solidarity and support for the Hamptons,” a tipster tells ARLnow.

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) Arlington County workers power washed away Black Lives Matter chalk art in front of a home in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood this morning.

An outraged neighbor posted on social media about the removal of the chalk art, which featured words and phrases like “There comes a time when silence is betrayal,” “Justice 4 All,” “MLK,” and “BLM.” A portion of the art was on the county-owned sidewalk and road, while the rest was in the home’s driveway.

“I am both saddened and outraged. My friend and colleague at Ashlawn has had a formal complaint made about her daughter’s chalk art on the driveway, sidewalk and street in front of their home,” wrote Dana Crepeau. “I spoke with the Arlington County employees, who did not want to remove the chalk but were told they must. I asked permission to post their photos.”

“It appears the neighbor who called the county has previously taken it upon herself to erase other chalk drawings in support of Black Lives Matter,” Crepeau added. She noted that today (Friday) is Juneteenth, a day that celebrates the emancipation of the last enslaved persons during the Civil War, which just became a state holiday in Virginia.

“Do I understand correctly that the county forced Black employees to erase messages in support of Black Lives Matter on Juneteenth and apparently saw no problem with that?” asked a commenter on Crepeau’s Facebook post.

“Yes, you are understanding this correctly,” she replied.

The residents were not home when an ARLnow reporter knocked on the door shortly before noon. The mother of the girl whose art was erased — Yvaal Hampton, a second grade teacher at Ashlawn Elementary — said in an email sent to the neighborhood listserv that “today, I feel like an outsider.”

Dear Boulevard Manor,

When my family and I moved into the neighborhood about a year and a half ago we were welcomed by a few amazing neighbors and I thought “this is going to be great.” Well today, I feel like an outsider. With the on-going racial climate that we are in, my kids and I wanted to express some of our feelings and thoughts in chalk outside of our house. Not a novice idea, right? Well this morning I hear loud voices outside of my window, so I go outside to see what’s going on. There were three African American city workers outside power washing our chalk expressions/drawing away because a neighbor complained. I had a lot of emotions running through me, but then one of the gentlemen said “Miss I don’t really want to have to do this, but my boss told be that I have to do it.” Then I felt sad for them, they were forced to remove a Dr. King quote and children’s artwork because a neighbor felt someway about it (angry, threatened… who knows). If it were flowers and sunshine drawings would she have complained?  Today, I feel like an outsider, but this outsider stands by her chalk messages “Justice for All”, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Thank you Dr. King for your wise words. #BlackLivesMatter

ARLnow is still awaiting an official statement from Arlington County, which held a Juneteenth Peace Rally in front of county government headquarters in Courthouse this morning. (Update at 9:15 a.m.: The county issued an apology last night.)

Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey told ARLnow that he is disturbed by the incident and awaiting more information on what happened. In the meantime, he offered an apology to the residents.

“We await a full understanding of the facts, but what is known at the moment disturbs us greatly,” Dorsey said. “It was a mistake to prioritize responding to this call during a pandemic where our workers should not be deployed unnecessarily. Furthermore, removal of the chalk art from a driveway apron, widely known to be the responsibility of the resident, was wrong.”

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(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) Arlington’s recent wave of activism now includes conflicts and changes at the nonprofit Mothers of North Arlington (MONA), including a discussion of expanding the group into South Arlington.

MONA is a nonprofit group for mothers and families across six ZIP codes, with more than 2,700 members. Since its inception, the group has promoted educational initiatives and events for both members and the general public to attend but has also seen its share of dissenters and critics.

In light of the national conversations around police brutality and systemic racism, one such critic is making the argument that MONA isn’t doing enough, starting with its exclusivity to North Arlington ZIP codes.

In early June, former MONA member Cynthia Smith posted to the group’s Facebook page about its silence on the topic of George Floyd’s murder, suggesting adding social justice organizations to MONA’s charity listings. The post was initially removed, though later restored, and Smith has since left MONA and called for the group to broaden its membership criteria to include South Arlington.

“Someone can’t just start a Mothers of South Arlington, it would take years by moms who are also likely working and raising kids,” Smith said in an email. “And the ‘separate but equal’ argument we all know is unsound. Route 50 has been a historic dividing line between whites and blacks, the haves and have-nots. MONA’s continued use of this dividing line is just a symbol of its desire to self-segregate.

(There is an existing group serving South Arlington: MOMS Club of Arlington – South.)

In defense of the group, Smith acknowledged how the MONA online forums can also be a valuable community resource, or a “bat signal,” for everything from school registration to tough, personal problems.

“There are so many different types of moms [in the group] but what is beautiful about MONA is that it acknowledges we all need help,” Smith said. “I think it owes it to itself and all of Arlington to come out of its bubble and welcome South Arlington moms into its fold.”

In response to Smith’s comments, MONA is making an effort to circulate ideas on how the group can facilitate actions to combat system racism.

On June 3, MONA President Mrinal Oberoi sent out an email to the group, writing:

In my previous President’s message, I failed to acknowledge the current racial injustice issues affecting our community. For that, I am sorry. Some of you may have taken that silence to be a message from MONA about where we stand. Let me be clear: MONA denounces racism and welcomes open discussions and sharing resources to raise our families in this light. Racism is an important, pervasive issue that deserves thoughtful, constructive discussion and action.

In her message, Oberoi, who herself is a person of color, asked for those who have felt unsafe or discriminated against in the group to reach out. In addition, she reminded the members of the forum posting guidelines and attached a link to a Google document to facilitate ideas of how the group can improve.

Some of the submissions in the document include:

  • Forming a MONA working group for social/racial injustice
  • Donating money to protesters’ bail funds and/or organizations working on racial justice issues
  • Create MONA social/racial justice yard and window signs
  • Host a town hall where MONA moms can share their own or listen to stories of racism and bias from other MONA moms
  • Create a communications policy that does not delete problematic, inconsiderate or inconvenient comments, but rather, respond to them as MONA addressing them and close the comments as needed

According to the document, the idea of MONA expanding membership to South Arlington is in discussion and “will be spearheaded by the new board.” One challenge of doing so is that a larger group would be even harder for its volunteer administrators to manage.

“The MONA Executive Board has discussed geographic expansion,” Oberoi said in an email to ARLnow. “The MONA Board and volunteers are currently in a state of transition as the fiscal year ends at the end of the month and there will be a change of Board in the next two weeks. These proposals will be reviewed by the new Board, which will take over July 1, 2020.”

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Morning Notes

Special County Board Meeting Planned — On Thursday at 6 p.m., the Arlington County Board “will hold a special meeting for a listening session on racial justice, systemic racism and policing. The County Board special meeting will be conducted using electronic means.” [Arlington County]

County Commissions Still Mostly Inactive — “Faced with a growing rebellion over the lack of meetings by Arlington government advisory panels, County Board members and top staff on June 13 offered (slightly defensive) apologies – but not much of a roadmap forward. Board members were responding to a June 9 letter sent to them by 25 chairs of advisory groups, complaining that the local government has been lagging in re-starting meetings that largely have been on hold since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March.” [InsideNova]

Pandemic Affects College Plans — From a 60 Minutes segment on Sunday: “The struggle extends to those already in college who are laboring to pay tuition and are weighed down by debt like 20-year-old Katherine Trejo of Arlington, Virginia. The daughter of a single mom from Bolivia, Katherine was supposed to graduate from George Mason next year. She is the first person in her family to attend college.” [CBS News]

Summer School Registration Underway — “Registration for distance learning secondary summer school is underway. Elementary students who qualify to participate in the Elementary Summer Learning Program will automatically be registered by APS.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Guilty Plea in Case Involving Arlington Company — “A former Arlington business executive pleaded guilty today to embezzling nearly $8 million that was intended to settle claims by children who alleged they were victims of medical malpractice. According to court documents, Joseph E. Gargan, 59, of Round Hill, was the Chief Executive Office of the Pension Company, Inc., an Arlington business that would execute settlement agreements entered into between civil litigants.” [Dept. of Justice]

ARLnow Operating Remotely — Since the first confirmed local coronavirus case in March, ARLnow’s employees have been working from home. We plan to continue working remotely until 2021, and may continue to have most employees work remotely most of the time after that. [Washingtonian]

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Morning Notes

Hundreds Protest Along George Mason Drive — Hundreds of people lined George Mason Drive Monday evening to protest racism and support Black Lives Matter. The protest was organized by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. [Twitter, Twitter]

Break-in at Claremont Elementary — “At approximately 12:30 a.m. on May 31, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary alarm. Arriving officers observed four suspects inside of a building and established a perimeter. While clearing the building, the four suspects were located on the roof and taken into custody without incident.” [Arlington County]

Local GOP Amps Up Social Media Presence — “The Arlington County Republican Committee often has a hard time competing with its Democratic counterpart at the ballot box. But the local GOP is working to win the battle of social media. Local Republicans recently announced that Taylor Jack, a rising senior at James Madison University, has joined the party’s public-relations team.” [InsideNova]

Beyer’s GOP Challenger Selected — “The candidate who positioned himself as the more conservative in the field emerged the victor and will become the Republican challenger in a decidedly uphill battle to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th). Jeff Jordan defeated Mark Ellmore in the 8th District Republican Committee convention.” [InsideNova]

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In a special work session with the Arlington County Board, former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told the board that achieving racial equity will involve restructuring the budget.

The former mayor spoke to the County Board at a work session yesterday morning (Monday) as the County’s budget process kicks into high gear.

Landrieu, author of In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History, spoke briefly about the history of racism in America. He said changes had to go beyond just removing Confederate names from streets and schools, or taking statues down and calling it a day. He said southern localities need to do more to address the roots of institutionalized racism.

“I understand Elizabeth Warren and Bernie [Sanders] are mad at the people who have [wealth], but it’s not just the institutions today that created the wealth gap between African Americans and white people,” Landrieu said. “Those discrepancies have been baked in over time.”

Landrieu was in Arlington at the invitation of the County Board, which is embarking on a year-long push to continue building equity into its budgetary and policy decision-making.

“The more you get into it and look at things, it’s clear there’s more we need to do to ensure equity and that the government’s working for everyone,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey told ARLnow, prior to the meeting. “Arlington reached out to Mitch, after seeing some of the work he did… it’s part of the budget process. We’re trying to infuse equity into all of our budget discussions.”

Much of the discussion was generalized, with Landrieu noting that he didn’t know how some of the specific mechanisms functioned within Arlington, and County Board members admitting they hadn’t read Landrieu’s book.

Landrieu noted that it was going to take considerable effort to rebalance after generations of families building generational wealth under an unequal system. Part of the solution, he said, is focusing on equity rather than equality in public services — a concept previously endorsed at the County Board.

“Budgets reflect whether you mean what you say,” Landrieu said. “[It shows] who pays and who gets what — that’s critically important.”

Two of Landrieu’s colleagues told the County Board that part of the process is going to various department heads to educate them and work on restructuring the budgets within the department. Changes included adding documentation in multiple languages, making accessibility improvements for people who were visually impaired, and holding meetings in places more accessible to public transit.

“You have to say ‘show me how we’re using the funding to close the gap’ and bake that into the way we do the budget,” Landrieu said. “When department heads know that, the budgets look vastly different.”

Landrieu’s staff noted, however, that as Arlington continues to grow it needs to look at how that growth is managed to ensure it doesn’t negatively impact vulnerable communities.

“You’ve given me comfort that despite the fact that our equity initiatives are in their infancy, that’s where we need to be in our early stages if we’re going to institutionalize this and not have it be just a periodic occurrence,” County Board member Christian Dorsey said. “You’ve given us practical advice for taking it to the next level in the months to come.”

Garvey said residents should expect more equity-focused changes in the coming months.

“Should be more than just removal of library fines,” as called for in the County Manager’s proposed budget, Garvey said. “Each department should have something… I expect to see a lot more items going forward.”

“It’s all about good government,” Garvey added. “It helps government work better for everyone, not just a certain group.”

Photo via Arlington County

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A woman accused of attacking two nannies in a dispute over her child’s behavior in a local park has a court date set for next month.

Falls Church resident Fatimazahra Berrada, 31, is set for a Dec. 3 trial date on two misdemeanor charges of assault and battery.

The charges stem from a dispute in the park near the Lyon Park Community Center on Sept. 23. We’re told two nannies confronted Berrada about alleged aggressive behavior by her child toward their charges. According to police, that escalated into a shouting match and Berrada throwing a playground toy and striking one of the nannies in the face.

More from an Arlington County Police crime report:

ASSAULT & BATTERY, 2019-09230176, N. Garfield Street at 4th Street N. At approximately 3:10 p.m. on September 23, police were dispatched to the report of a fight. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect and the two female victims were in a park when they became engaged in a verbal dispute over the way children in their care were playing. The incident escalated and the suspect allegedly began yelling and threw a playground toy at the victims before striking one victim in the face. Medics responded to the scene and no significant injuries were reported. The victims declined prosecution at the time of the incident. Charges were later sought on October 4 and the suspect turned herself in to police on October 8. Fatimazahra Berrada, 31, of Falls Church, VA, was charged with Assault and Battery (x2).

The incident led to outrage on the neighborhood’s Nextdoor network after a resident posted that “racist insults” were yelled at the nannies during the incident. A source tells ARLnow that the victims alleged being told to “go back to your country,” but police and prosecutors did not find enough evidence to seek a longer sentence based on a bias-motivated crime, adding that the dispute originated with the discussion of child behavior.

The November issue of the Lyon Park Citizen Association newsletter included allegations of an “ugly incident in our community park” sparked by “a woman passing by [who] took offense at the fact they were speaking in Spanish.” Police told ARLnow they have no evidence of that sequence of events happening, however.

“It is hard to believe that the woman… hasn’t gotten the message posted in front yards across our community — Hate Has No Home Here!” the newsletter says.

Photo via Google Maps

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