Arlington, VA

Arlington Democrats will be holding a part get-out-the-vote, part pro-impeachment rally in Courthouse this weekend.

The event, organized by the Arlington County Democratic Committee, will feature a 13-foot “Baby Trump” balloon — billed as “similar to the ones that have attracted crowds across the country and in Europe” — as well as remarks by outspoken impeachment proponent Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.)

“Virginians have a beautiful, amazing, really unbelievable opportunity to show Trump that his time is nearly up: by voting bigly in this November’s election!” Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo said in a press release (below). “In all seriousness, it’s time for people of conscience to stand up against this corrupt president and his Republican enablers — at our family-friendly rally in Arlington and at the polls across Virginia Nov. 5.”

The rally is happening at Courthouse Plaza, outside Arlington County government HQ (2100 Clarendon Blvd), starting at noon on Saturday. Attendees will be encouraged to vote absentee immediately after the rally.

The full Arlington Democrats press release is below.

A 13-foot “Baby Trump” balloon, similar to the ones that have attracted crowds across the country and in Europe, will dominate the stage at an Arlington County Democratic Committee (Arlington Dems) “Impeach Trump, Then Vote!” rally, at noon Saturday, Oct. 19, in Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood.

The rally will feature remarks by U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who represents Arlington and has been a strong proponent of Congress’ ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Beyer will be joined by the “Baby Trump” balloon, like the ones that have appeared at protests in Orlando, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, London, and elsewhere.

The rally will take place in the Metro-accessible Courthouse Plaza at 2100 Clarendon Blvd., which is adjacent to the Bozeman Government Center, where “absentee voting in person” is underway in Virginia’s critical Nov. 5 election. Rally attendees are encouraged to come prepared to vote absentee immediately after the rally. Absentee voting information, including eligibility criteria, is available on the Arlington Registrar’s website. For example, Arlington voters who work in DC are eligible to vote absentee and are encouraged to do so now to avoid Election Day logistical challenges.

Absentee voting in person is available at various hours Mondays-Saturdays until Nov. 5. It’s open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 19.

Virginia is the only state in the country in which Democrats are regarded as having a serious shot at flipping both houses of its legislature blue this year. Virginia Republicans now have only a two-seat majority in both the House of Delegates and the Senate. The state’s Democratic Party has mounted a formidable #RetakeTheMajority campaign to flip both houses blue, but success will require robust voter turnout between now and the Nov. 5 election.

“Virginians have a beautiful, amazing, really unbelievable opportunity to show Trump that his time is nearly up: by voting bigly in this November’s election!” Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo said, mocking the loquacious, superlative-loving Trump. “In all seriousness, it’s time for people of conscience to stand up against this corrupt president and his Republican enablers–at our family-friendly rally in Arlington and at the polls across Virginia Nov. 5.”

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A group of local students is organizing a demonstration in Arlington tomorrow (Friday) as part of a nationwide climate change strike ahead of the UN Climate Change panel.

Teenage organizers of the Northern Virginia effort say they’re organizing a teach-in about environmentalism from 8-11 a.m. at American University, followed by a rally beginning at 11:45 a.m. outside Arlington County government headquarters (2100 Clarendon Blvd) in Courthouse, to help the planet they’re about to inherit.

“The most important thing is to educate,” said organizer and Yorktown High School student Hannah Knittig. “That goes for government officials and also to the public.”

The students organizers are working with the Northern Virginia chapter of the Youth Climate Strike organization, and is hoping to attract attendees and passersby to the Courthouse rally with speeches, a voter registration table, and posters the local effects of climate change.

“I hope they can see that they can get involved from home where they live,” said another organizer, Cecelia O’Sullivan, 15, at the Potomac School in McLean. “They can see that this is really an accessible moment happening all over the country.”

The teen organizers who spoke to ARLnow cited concerns about global warming raising flood threats and spawning more extreme storms, also noting how activities like fracking pollute the environment and contribute to the problem.

“Our water supply and our excessive need of products in Arlington impacts people who live in Blacksburg and all over Virginia,” said Knitting. “I definitely know that my lifestyle, and my family’s lifestyle, does impact other people.”

“Seeing all these very small occurrences, which at first they don’t link immediately link to climate change. But once you dig deeper, you just see it’s all part of that larger effect of climate change,” said Saahithi Achanta, 17, who is also helping organize the event from Chantilly High School.

Knittig, 16, said that around eighty students from across the Northern Virginia area have signed up to join the Arlington strike, and another 80 students have pledged to attend the same-day sister strike in Richmond.

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Community leaders and activists will gather at Courthouse Plaza tonight (June 1) at 6:30 p.m. to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Weekend.

Organized by Arlington members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the rally will feature speeches from local leaders and voter registration with Arlington NAACP volunteers.

“I see rallies like this as an opportunity to raise awareness, to think about the daily violence that happens that doesn’t make the newspapers, but is something that impacts all of us,” Beth Fine, the local lead for Moms Demand Action, told ARLnow.

The event is one of 19 that will take place throughout the state this weekend, according to the Virginia Moms Demand Action Facebook page, and is among more than 350 planned across the country.

Arlington County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey and School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen will both speak at the rally alongside Arlington Poet Laureate Katherine Young and student activists Karina de Leede and Chloe Fugle.

“I will be speaking about the School Board’s support for Wear Orange, our concern for the safety of our students and staff and the importance of student voices,” Kanninen said.

The Wear Orange movement began in 2013 when friends of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton wore the color after Pendleton was shot and killed. Everytown for Gun Safety, a national organization that advocates against gun violence, began promoting the campaign nationally in 2015.

But Fine notes that the movement also has plenty of support locally, including from the County Board. In May, the Board declared June 1 National Gun Violence Awareness Day in Arlington, a decision that Fine believes “sets the right tone.”

“It’s important too that they know we are out there supporting people who are on board with this message,” she added.

Over 200 businesses in the Arlington area will also post fliers or offer specials to customers wearing orange this weekend, according to organizers. Alto Fumo, Ambar, Busboys & Poets, Cafe Pizzaiolo and New District Brewing Company are among the local businesses expected to run Wear Orange promotions this weekend.

Ultimately, Fine said community members who attend the rally should feel empowered to make change.

“I think what they should should come away [from] it with is the idea that they can actually effect change,” Fine said. “They will have some ideas as they leave about what they can do to make a difference.”

Photo via Facebook

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Despite this afternoon’s heat, dozens of protesters crowded the sidewalk in front of Rosslyn’s Social Security Administration office to rally against its potential closure.

The office, those speaking at the megaphone argued, is a vital component of serving the area’s Social Security benefit recipients.

“If you close this office, you’re cutting a social security benefit,” said J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “It’s just like cutting somebody’s social security check — you’re cutting the ability for them to access the services that they need.”

The activists’ argue that many people who receive benefits are either aging or disabled and need an easily accessible, local office. That portion of the population needs to be able to consult a human being face-to-face in order to maximize their benefits.

Using an internet portal, they say, was inefficient for some benefit recipients because they tend to not include sufficient or accurate information on forms, have difficulty using a computer, or don’t have the ability to access the internet.

County Board member Christian Dorsey made an appearance, arguing that there’s plenty of room for the Social Security Administration to maintain an Arlington presence.

“This pains me to say as a public official, but office space is not that expensive in Arlington right now,” said Dorsey, pledging to use county resources to find the SSA a more amenable lease. “There are plenty of opportunities for the SSA to stay.”

The Social Security Administration has an office in Alexandria, but anyone looking to get there from Arlington would have to take a trip down the Blue Line to the Van Dorn Metro station and then hop on a bus. The SSA’s website doesn’t even list that office as being nearby if users enter a Rosslyn zip code to find a location.

“To lose the ability to connect people to an office thats within a short walk of heavy rail and to put them in an office more than a mile away from the closest Metro station speaks of poor planning and speaks of insensitivity,” said Dorsey. “We want to reverse that.”

Dorsey himself only learned of the closure a few weeks ago from an Arlingtonian who works with AFGE.

“You would expect, in a world where there’s a governmental asset, that you’d at least get a heads-up when there’s a rethinking of delivering that service — but that’s not the world we live in,” Dorsey said.

About 90 people come to the office every day to use the office, according to Dorsey.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has also written a letter to the SSA’s internal watchdog requesting an investigation into the agency’s decision to close the office.

A full video of the rally has been made available by Social Security Works, an organization in favor of expanding the program.

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A march from Charlottesville to D.C. against the “toxic ideology of white supremacy in our nation” is set to reach Arlington County this afternoon (Wednesday) before heading onto its final leg.

The March to Confront White Supremacy was organized by local religious leaders and social justice advocates. It began in Charlottesville on August 28 , following the death of Heather Heyer while protesting a white supremacist rally in the city.

Marchers are set to arrive at Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) in Rosslyn at 3 p.m. today, then leave for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial for a 4 p.m. rally.

Arlington police said there are no planned road closures to accommodate the march, though ACPD and Virginia State Police will monitor it. Organizers said the march has attracted nearly 1,000 people for its final stages from Fairfax into D.C.

Since beginning in Charlottesville, organizers said they have overcome “inclement weather and threats to stop the march from state police,” on a route that took them 118 miles through “the largely white and rural Virginia countryside.” Today, the march is encountering rainy weather as it arrives at its destination.

In addition to countering the message of the white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, march organizers say they are calling “for the removal of President Trump and all other elected officials who embolden and support white supremacists and the end of white supremacist public policies.”

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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

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Morning Notes

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

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Morning Notes

Arlington Democrats participate in Saturday's Women's March (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

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]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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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.

Today, June 2nd, is National Gun Violence Awareness Day. I want to thank my colleagues on the School Board and community members all over Arlington who have joined together today to wear orange.

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

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Morning Notes

Cannon

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

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Nearly a thousand people march through Arlington to support immigration reform (file photo)Immigrants are “under attack” during this presidential election year. That’s according to the organizers of a rally and citizenship clinic planned in Arlington next week.

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.

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