A pair of recent Yorktown High School graduates were behind Sunday’s rally to condemn the weekend’s events in Charlottesville.
Julian Lopez-Leyva and Justin Wu, both 2016 Yorktown graduates who have just completed their first year of college, decided to put the event together late Saturday night to “actively condemn bigotry and racial hatred through a series of speeches, songs, actions, and a moment of silence.”
Lopez-Leyva is a Political Science major with a minor in Economics at Emmanuel College in Boston, while Wu studies Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech.
They said in interviews Monday that they did not fully expect to see 200 people and a slew of elected officials in attendance in Courthouse, all wanting to come together and heal.
“Initially I expected only 10 people to come out, but it ended up being around 200 people and that blew my mind,” Lopez-Leyva said. “But I think that also spoke to me understanding that it wasn’t only me that was fed up, it was so many other people, and that solidarity was an imperative. We just really have to speak up, and I think speaking up is the right move.”
The pair organized the event through Facebook, and also reached out to local grassroots political group Indivisible Arlington for help getting the word out. Attendance snowballed from that initial Facebook event post. (ARLnow.com also tweeted about it.)
“When we first started organizing this, I had reservations thinking it was too quick a turnaround and that we wouldn’t be able to get the word out in time since we started so late at night,” Wu said.
The rally included poetry readings and speeches by activist Gayle Fleming, Dels. Rip Sullivan, Patrick Hope and Mark Keam, as well as Arlington County Board vice chair Katie Cristol.
Wu said he was struck by how many people have connections to Charlottesville, whether through themselves or family and friends attending the University of Virginia in the city or in other ways.
“It was powerful to see that an event in Charlottesville had an effect all the way out here in Northern Virginia, and how everyone is all connected to this,” Wu said.
And while neither had organized an event like this before, they agreed it was heartening to see such turnout, especially among young people.
“I think students are really going to be the leaders of our world in the future, so I’m sad that I’m going to be leaving Arlington but I’m happy that I have the potential to speak up among so many other people who are like-minded, maybe not so like-minded, but regardless are around the same age range as myself and who have the duress to really say something,” Lopez-Leyva said.
The event ended with a period for conversation and asking questions, like the sorts of town halls hosted regularly by politicians and businesses. Lopez-Leyva said that kind of communication and understanding each other will be key to help unite the country again.
“People and conversations are some of the most powerful weapons in the world,” he said. “I think the voice is innumerably more powerful than any sort of physical weapon, any sort of fist, anything we saw in Charlottesville. I think the discussion on any side of the aisle, no matter where you’re coming from, I think that’s an imperative if you really want to bring this country back together.”
Photos by Peter Golkin
Charlottesville Solidarity Rally Held — Arlington County Board vice chair Katie Cristol was among those who spoke at a “Rally of Solidarity for Charlottesville” in Courthouse yesterday. The rally was intended to “actively condemn bigotry and racial hatred through a series of speeches, songs, actions, and a moment of silence.” [Facebook, WJLA]
Alexandria Considering New Names for Route 1 — An Alexandria group charged with considering new names for Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) is soliciting suggestions through an online form and two public hearings. [City of Alexandria]
Flashing Lights on I-66 — If you drove on I-66 this weekend and noticed flashing lights from equipment overhead, don’t worry: you’re not getting a ticket. Instead, VDOT is testing new toll equipment. Non-HOV drivers are expected to begin paying a toll to use I-66 inside the Beltway in December. [VDOT, NBC Washington]
Old Oak Tree Saved — A “mighty” oak tree that pre-dates the Civil War was saved from being removed during the construction of a new home thanks to a petition by neighbors and a developer willing to consider their concerns. The tree, at the corner of N. Nottingham and 27th streets, is 18 feet in circumference and one of Arlington’s 100 designated “champion” trees. [Washington Post]
WeWork Offering Free Space on Mondays — Coworking provider WeWork is offering free workspace at its D.C. and Northern Virginia locations — including its Arlington location in Crystal City — on Mondays as part of a new promotion dubbed “#SummerMondays.” The promotion runs through the end of September. An RSVP is required. [WeWork]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
Women’s March Crowds Local Metro Stations — Arlington County Police assisted with crowd and traffic control before and after the Women’s March on Saturday. The event resulted in crowded Metro stations and heavy traffic on routes into the District. [Twitter, Twitter]
Local Restaurant Owner Expands into D.C. — Javier Candon, the co-owner of SER Restaurant in Ballston, has opened a new Spanish restaurant, Joselito Casa de Comidas, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of D.C. [WTOP]
Reconsidering Virginia’s No-Bars Law — In Virginia, restaurants that serve mixed drinks must make at least 45 percent of their gross sales from food and nonalcoholic beverages. The rule is essentially intended to prevent the opening of bars and nightclubs devoted exclusively to the sale of alcoholic beverages. But some believe the rule should be repealed because it “infringes on the rights of restaurant owners, and limits choice for consumers.” [Reason, Virginian-Pilot]
Obit: Ruth Graze — Arlington resident Ruth Graze, a former advertising executive and former volunteer for the group Arlingtonians for a Better County, died on Dec. 23 at the age of 102. [Washington Post]
Reminder: Submitting Events — As a reminder to those who are planning events in Arlington, the best way to submit events to us is via our event calendar. Sending a press release is usually not necessary. [ARLnow]
Last night, dozens gathered in Courthouse Plaza to wear orange for National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
The rally was organized by Moms Demand Action. Among those attending were family members of gun violence victims and a number of elected officials.
Arlington School Board member Barbara Kanninen issued the following statement about the event.
On January 21st, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old high school student from the south side of Chicago, marched in President Obama’s 2nd inaugural parade. One week later, just after taking final exams, Hadiya was shot and killed in a Chicago park.
First Lady Michelle Obama attended Hadiya’s funeral and three weeks later, President Obama talked about Hadiya in his State of The Union address. He talked about how she loved Fig Newtons and that she was a majorette.
Later that year, on Hadiya’s birthday, June 2nd, Hadiya’s friends began the Wear Orange Campaign. They chose orange because it was Hadiya’s favorite color. It’s also what hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.
On average, 48 children and teens are shot and 7 die from their injuries each day in the United States.
What started in a south side Chicago high school to celebrate Hadiaya has turned into a nationwide movement to honor all lives cut short by gun violence. Wear Orange is also a celebration of life – and a call to action to help save lives from gunfire.
Wear Orange is sponsored by the National PTA, National Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, American Public Health Association, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, YWCA and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, among many other groups and organizations.
Today, on Gun Violence Awareness Day, we remember Hadiya, the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School, the students of Virginia Tech, and the many, many students in elementary school, middle school, high school, and college, who have been injured or killed by guns. This includes students who attended school right here in Arlington and have died far too young, due to suicide.
Thank you for supporting Wear Orange, for raising awareness, and for remembering all those affected by gun violence, especially the children.
Video by Omar DeBrew
Women of Vision Honorees Announced — The 2016 Arlington County Women of Vision award winners have been announced. The honorees are Arlington Public Library director Diane Kresh, Sprout CEO Rebecca Carpenter and STEM education advocate Susan Senn. Kresh, Carpenter and Senn will be honored at a ceremony on Tuesday, June 28. [Arlington County]
Immigration Rally in Arlington — Local immigrants rallied in Arlington last night “to make their voices heard — and some began the process of becoming a citizen.” Some 100 people attended the CASA-sponsored event. [WJLA]
APAH Gets Big Grant — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing announced yesterday that it was one of 40 nonprofits nationwide to be selected for a grant from the Citi Foundation Community Progress Makers Fund. “APAH will receive a core operating support grant of $500,000 over the course of two years to continue its work in the community around affordable housing.” [APAH]
Photo by Jackie Friedman
Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of the immigrant advocacy and services organization CASA, says anti-immigrant rhetoric is prompting anxiety in the immigrant community and an increase in naturalization applications. His group is encouraging eligible Virginia residents to follow that trend and naturalize in time to vote this November.
CASA and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) are joining forces next Wednesday, May 18, for an event that will be part rally, part clinic “where CASA staff will advise potential citizenship seekers on the viability of their application.” The event will take place at Patrick Henry Elementary School (701 S. Highland Street) at 7:30 p.m.
“There is something unique and significant going on in immigrant communities,” Gutiérrez said in a media advisory about the event (below). “Wherever I travel in the U.S. these days, I see large numbers of eligible immigrants coming forward to apply for naturalization. When there is anxiety about what appears to be rising xenophobia, that always motivates people who can seek citizenship to do so and motivates citizens to become voters.”
The full advisory, after the jump.
The university is warning of potential traffic and parking issues around its Arlington campus.
“This event is open to students, faculty and staff, as well as the broader community,” GMU said in a press release. “Though we expect no changes to operations at Hazel Hall and the Arlington Campus, there are likely to be parking and traffic impacts associated with the event.”
“We expect additional traffic on campus on Tuesday as Founders Hall is a designated polling place for Arlington County for the Virginia Primary Election,” the university added.
Photo via John Kasich/Flickr
Janitors to Rally with Candidates in Ballston — About 150 part-time janitors will rally in Ballston this afternoon for a new union contract. The rally is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. in front of the National Science Foundation at 4201 Wilson Blvd. Democratic County Board candidates Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey are expected to attend the rally to lend their support, according to a press release from the 32BJ SEIU union.
Arlington Man Killed in D.C. Pedestrian Crash — An Arlington man, 31-year-old George Mina, has died several days after being struck by a car on Wisconsin Avenue NW in D.C. Mina, a pediatric phlebotomist, was struck by the driver of a Jaguar while crossing Wisconsin at Veazy Street NW on June 10. A rally for pedestrian safety was held in the area last night, with advocates calling for D.C. to implement pedestrian safety measures currently in use in Arlington. [NBC Washington]
No Opponent for Commonwealth’s Attorney — A potential independent candidate for Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney came up just a couple of verified petition signatures short of the 140 he needed to qualify for the ballot. Criminal defense attorney Frank Webb said he will drop his bid to get on the ballot. Incumbent Democrat Theo Stamos is now running unopposed. [InsideNova]
WW2 Vets Boogie at DCA — Video posted on YouTube shows a group of World War II veterans, in a Reagan National Airport terminal last month awaiting their honor flight back to Kentucky, dancing to a live rendition of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
Arlington County appears ready to move forward with selling Rosslyn Highlands Park to a developer in exchange for a new fire station, and some residents are protesting the deal.
This Saturday, a new group called Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park will host a rally at the park (1555 Wilson Blvd) to try to garner support and more signatures for its petition to the Arlington County Board. The rally will run from 10:00 a.m-noon and the group says it has invited all members of the County Board and the six announced candidates to attend and listen to park advocates’ concern.
Of particular concern to the group: the revelation that Arlington signed a letter of intent with developer Penzance to trade the piece of land for a new fire station in January 2013, six months before the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) was launched.
“Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park, along with neighboring civic associations and countless citizens, are dismayed that a negotiation behind closed doors would threaten, and in effect predetermine the fate of, one of Arlington’s cherished neighborhood parks,” Katie Elmore, spokeswoman for Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park, said in a press release. “Such action by the County Board corrodes public belief in the ‘Arlington Way’ and the viability of future public processes.”
The WRAPS Working Group was formed by the County Board to determine the best mix of uses for the area between 18th Street N., Wilson Blvd, N. Quinn Street and the edge of the 1555 Wilson Blvd office building. The WRAPS group has met regularly since the summer of 2013 and the County Board will vote on the area’s future next month.
The park currently includes a small playground, basketball court, parking lot and some open green space; a total of 30,182 square feet. It’s adjacent to a 45,000 square foot playing field behind the Wilson School that will stay in place when the site becomes the future home of H-B Woodlawn.
The proposal that county staff recommended to the Board earlier this month would reduce county park space to 11,500 square feet, but add a publicly-accessible plaza in between new high-rise, mixed-use office and residential buildings.
The proposal also calls for Penzance to construct a N. Pierce Street extension between Wilson and 18th, even though some residents said they preferred an extended N. Ode Street, slightly farther east. County staff say Ode Street would interfere with traffic from the new fire station and the new school.
While preserving open space and parkland has been a stated County Board priority, the panel has made it clear that it would be willing to sell the land in exchange for fulfilling other priorities. Residents say not only is the county selling one of the last remaining green spaces in Rosslyn, but it’s not even getting a good deal.
“This is trading a public good for private gain, the sale price of the land is significantly undervalued, the financial trade off is short-sighted and not ‘fiscally responsible,’ and the board has been deaf to the input of residents on this issue,” Elizabeth Schill, who lives nearby, told ARLnow.com in an email. “This is not a NIMBY issue, but rather one in which we are opposed to the sale of rare and irreplaceable parkland to a private, commercial developer at below-market rates for purely private gain.”
Some of county staff’s proposals for Rosslyn Highlands Park’s replacements include more urbanized versions of playgrounds, or basketball courts integrated with plaza seating like the new plaza on 19th Street N. But the Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park say it just won’t be the same as the park they’ve been bringing their children to for years.
“The park is a second backyard, a friendly place,” Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park leader Anna Duran said in an email. “The park for us is a place to relax, a place to nod in humanity at other humans, perhaps unknown at the time, but just a moment away from friendliness. There, we’ve gotten much further with making friends than in passing each other on the street — and much further than in passing through a jungle of tall business buildings.”
Photo, bottom, courtesy of Anna Duran
Earth Day in Arlington — Today is Earth Day around the globe, but Arlington County has declared that “every day is Earth Day in Arlington.” In a press release, the county detailed the steps it has been taking to enhance environmental sustainability and also highlighted some environmentally-friendly events around Arlington. Among the upcoming events are the Green Living Expo on April 26 and Bike to Work Day on May 16. [Arlington County]
School Board Candidate Visits All 52 Precincts — Arlington School Board candidate Barbara Kanninen says she has now knocked on doors in all 52 Arlington electoral precincts. Last year Kanninen was criticized for reportedly holding all of her published campaign events in north Arlington. [InsideNoVa]
Rally Against Rape in Rosslyn — The annual Rally Against Rape will be held in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to raise awareness of sexual violence in Northern Virginia. The event is free and includes speakers, music and a resource fair. [Clarendon Nights, Eventful]
The Memorial Bridge will be closed from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington Realize the Dream March & Rally.
The event, which will commemorate the anniversary of 1963 march and rally that featured Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, will take place Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial.
The National Park Service says it’s taking “every effort… to minimize traffic delays during this event.”
“Variable message boards will be put in place in advance on Memorial Circle and the ramps from the George Washington Memorial Parkway to warn drivers of the [Memorial Bridge] closure,” NPS said in a press release.
Those heading to the rally are encouraged to take Metro to the Arlington National Cemetery station on the Blue Line.
A group of nuns critical of Republican budget plans launched a one-day bus tour of Virginia today (Friday) in Arlington.
The advocacy group Nuns on the Bus held a reception, speaking program and press conference this morning at St. Charles Borromeo Church (3304 Washington Blvd) near Clarendon. The event was the launch of a one-day bus tour of Virginia, which includes planned stops in Richmond and Virginia Beach.
A reported crowd of nearly 200 supporters, and a few critics, turned out for the event. The nuns spoke about “moral budget priorities” and argued against cutting social welfare programs — a move they say would “further [enrich] the wealthiest Americans at the expense of struggling, impoverished families.” They singled out the budget proposal of Republican Vice Presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan as a plan that would hurt the needy.
A few protesters held signs at the rally critical of the Obama administration’s requirement that larger employers — including some religious employers — pay for for health insurance that includes coverage of contraception.
Photos courtesy James Webster
Planned Parenthood’s “Women are Watching” bus tour stopped at Virginia Highlands Park near Pentagon City on Sunday morning. With a bright pink bus as a backdrop, Kaine told the crowd that he was committed to pro-choice policies and against efforts to place restrictions on birth control.
“Often, these issues are pushed by the other side as wedge issues. They want to use wedge issues that divide us,” Kaine said. “Women’s lives are not political issues, women’s lives are not wedge issues. Women have the ability to make their own health care decisions and their own moral decisions.”
Kaine was joined at the rally by several local Democratic elected officials, including County Board member Walter Tejada, state Senator Janet Howell, Del. Charniele Herring, and Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy.
Howell and Herring spoke of some of the bills pushed by Republicans during the latest legislative session in Richmond, including a bill that originally would have required women seeking an abortion to receive a transvaginal ultrasound. (The bill was amended to only require an external ultrasound after it made national headlines.) Also discussed was the more recent controversy over remarks by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.). Akin falsely suggested that the female body “has ways to shut… down” and prevent a pregnancy during a “legitimate rape.”
Charniele told the crowd of more than 100 Planned Parenthood supporters that politicians should be required to have a basic understanding of biology before they try to legislate on it.
While politics dominated the rally, not everything discussed was of a political nature.
One of the speakers was a young female immigrant who was diagnosed with breast cancer during a Planned Parenthood screening. She spoke of how, though she lacked health insurance, the organization provided the support and financial assistance she needed to get a mastectomy and emerge from treatment cancer-free.
Kaine will face Republican George Allen on the Nov. 6 ballot in Virginia.
Photos courtesy Kaine for Virginia and Cliffords Photography, as labeled
Gingrich’s campaign has scheduled a rally from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday at the Key Bridge Marriott (1401 Lee Highway) in Rosslyn, according to an email published by Politico. The rally is apparently part of an effort to make sure Gingrich collects enough signatures to appear on the ballot in Virginia.
This is not Gingrich’s first appearance in Arlington as a presidential candidate. The former House speaker was in Arlington this summer for the grand opening of his campaign headquarters, which is located on Fairfax Drive in Ballston.
Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia
It may be the most exciting thing to happen outside Ballston Common Mall since this happened last year. The Virginia Sierra Club is planning a made-for-TV rally tomorrow at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and Stuart Street.
With the help of some interesting visuals, environmental activists will be calling for policies that support cleaner air in Virginia. Specifically, the Sierra Club is asking for public hearings regarding Dominion Virginia Power’s long-term energy plan. They’re also asking for the State Corporation Commission to approve Dominion’s plan to retire two coal-fired power plants in Virginia.
To help put an exclamation point on their message, demonstrators will be bringing along “a 6-foot cardboard asthma inhaler… 6-foot tall mock wind turbines…. pinwheels symbolizing desire for wind energy… and posters and signs calling for a transition from dirty coal to clean energy.” In addition, rally bystanders will be encouraged to place phone calls to the State Corporation Commission requesting public hearings about Dominion.
“Switching to cleaner energy sources can not only reduce dangerous air pollution, but also create high-skill, high-wage jobs for Virginians,” the Sierra Club said in a press advisory. “Activists seek public hearings so citizens may voice their strong support for clean energy and clean air in person”
Flickr pool photo by Tim Kelley