Arlington County police are investigating a series of overnight break-ins at the Arlington Forest Shopping Center.
Thieves smashed windows and forced their way in to three businesses, stealing cash. Another business was reportedly damaged but the thieves — or thief — did not get in.
“At approximately 7:33 a.m. on January 7, police were dispatched to the late report of a breaking and entering in the 4800 block of 1st Street N.,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined that unknown suspect(s) forced entry to three businesses, causing damage. The suspect(s) rummaged through items and stole an undisclosed amount of cash. Police remain on scene investigating.”
ARLnow has received numerous tips about the break-ins from outraged neighbors.
“The cleaners, Bricks Pizza, and Thai place had their front doors smashed and interiors ransacked,” said one. “Sense of Place’s door was damaged but not destroyed.”
“Significant damage to already struggling local businesses thanks to Covid,” said another neighbor. “The neighborhood is devastated and want answers.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the business owners and, as of about 10:30 a.m., has already raised more than $2,500.
“This is just garbage — hurting literal mom and pop businesses who are so good to us and our community,” the organizer of the campaign said in an email to ARLnow. “The Bricks guy gives my dog water in the summer. The cleaners are the kindest most hardworking people. The coffee shop is a treasure. Crystal Thai has been my favorite Thai food for almost 30 years.”
“All three businesses will need new doors to get up and operating again ASAP,” the GoFundMe page says. “The total amount donated will be split equally between the cleaners’, Bricks, and Crystal Thai. Please give if you can.”
Photos courtesy Stephen Trickey
Not once, not twice, but four times, vandals have targeted a Black Lives Matter sign in front of the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington near Ballston.
Church officials were first alerted of the vandalism on Saturday morning, and presume that the destruction occurred overnight.
“It’s been a rocky history at this point,” said Scott LaGanga, an elder at the church, which is located at 601 N. Vermont Street in the Bluemont neighborhood.
First Presbyterian is at least the fourth church in Arlington reported to have a racial-justice sign vandalized this year.
The church has gone through four signs since one first went up on Oct. 4, LaGanga said. The sign read “Black Lives Matter” on a striped background imitating the Philadelphia Pride flag, which includes the colors for Gay Pride and Trans-rights flags as well as black and brown stripes to symbolize people of color.
“They’re clearly doing it in the dark because they have a certain viewpoint and don’t want to share that they have it,” LaGanga said.
After the first sign was stolen, the church invested in steel cables to secure it. Instead, vandals covered it in graffiti. Once, they crossed out the “V” in “Black Lives Matter” to read “Black Lies Matter,” LaGanga said.
This time, someone cut the sign out of the cables and took it.
LaGanga explained that the church has been more engaged in issues of racial justice, putting up signs and hosting a weekly outdoor vigil for an end to racial injustice. Acts of vandalism will not shaken the resolve of the church, he said.
“The church has taken a strong position on inclusion and racial justice,” said LaGanga. “It reaffirms the stance we are taking and the reason we’re going to replace the sign.”
This time, LaGanga said the church is considering security cameras, which he hopes will catch whoever is targeting the sign.
“We’re so resolved that if someone wants to do it, they’ll do it on camera,” he said.
First Presbyterian has received strong support from people in the community, many of whom are neighbors but not members, LaGanga said.
“We were surprised in the uptick in support from others in the community who were upset by this,” he said.
The first time, the church submitted a police report, but LaGanga does not see much point in submitting more since there have been no leads to date on the vandal.
In the wake of the protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd this summer, a rash of church signs were vandalized. Black Lives Matter sign were vandalized at Rock Spring Congregational church and at St. George’s Episcopal Church as well as a racial justice sign was vandalized outside of Clarendon United Methodist Church.
Acts of vandalism against BLM signage also occurred in secular spaces this summer, including S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395.
Photos courtesy Mark Blacknell
Along George Mason Drive near the hospital Thursday morning, bare metal frames were almost as ubiquitous as the undamaged political signs still standing in the median.
Reports of widespread political sign vandalism earlier this month have seemingly not deterred the vandal or vandals. Newly ripped, trampled or discarded signs can still be seen along Arlington’s main roads. Many, if not most, are those supporting the Democratic presidential ticket.
“We continue to have widespread and sustained destruction and vandalism of campaign signs we’ve lawfully erected,” Arlington County Democratic Committee spokeswoman Rebecca Theim told ARLnow yesterday afternoon. “Our program chair, Carol Burnett, estimates that fewer than 25 of the 780 Biden-Harris signs Arlington Democrats volunteers placed on Oct. 3 remain undamaged. Although we’ve replaced many, most of the original signs simply disappeared; those that remained have been shredded.”
“More than half of our Arlington Democrats Joint Campaign signs titled ‘Vote Democrats’ are also gone or vandalized, including 30 such signs just last night along Wilson Boulevard,” Theim added. “The majority of signs supporting the re-election of Sen. Warner also have been removed or vandalized… There’s been some vandalism of the other signs, but for the most part, signs about the proposed state constitutional referendums and School Boards races have remained untouched.”
Arlington Democrats took the rare step of putting out a press release about the sign destruction on Oct. 4. Isolated incidents of signs being vandalized happen every election cycle, but 2020 seems to be different, local Democrats say.
“I have done median signs for a dozen elections in Arlington, and have never seen vandalism this rampant,” said Burnett, who heads ACDC’s sign program. “Usually, a few signs go missing, but I’ve never seen this kind of destruction, where signs are shredded or torn in half. And I’ve not seen entire streets with signs in a dozen medians vandalized, like has happened this year.”
“There are also many more reports of residents having their ‘Dump Trump’ and Biden-Harris signs stolen from their yards,” she continued. “One resident who lives on 23rd Street in Aurora Hills has had 6 signs stolen. He now takes his signs inside at night.”
On Nextdoor this week, Arlington residents have also reported numerous missing or damaged signs supporting President Trump.
Arlington GOP Chair Andrew Loposser previously told ARLnow that sign vandalism is a common occurrence.
“Nearly every candidate’s signs — regardless of political party — get vandalized at some point during the campaign, usually by bored high school kids,” he said earlier this month. “Let me be clear: Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable.”
Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow that as of Thursday, the department has received more than a dozen reports of political sign theft and damage in recent months.
“Since July, ACPD has taken 13 reports for damaged, destroyed or stolen political signs,” Savage said. “These incidents have been reported in areas throughout the County.”
(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Arlington Democrats are decrying what the local party describes as a wave of vandalism of Democratic election signs.
Almost every election cycle in Arlington there are reports of small-scale vandalism and mischief involving campaign signs. Rarely do those reports, on message boards and community listservs, rise to the level of county-wide news.
But the Arlington County Democratic Committee says the latest vandalism spree, which happened just after the signs went up, is different.
“At least 30 election signs lawfully placed in public street medians by the Arlington County Democratic Committee encouraging citizens to vote in the Nov. 3 election and to support Democratic candidates, including presidential nominee Joe Biden and Virginia U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, were destroyed and vandalized overnight,” the party said in a press release Sunday. “Signs not specifically referencing the Democratic ticket were not disturbed.”
Each election season, the signs for candidates of all stripes pop up in roadway medians 31 days before the election, as permitted by local and state law. Democratic signs are particularly prolific, given the party’s electoral dominance in Arlington and the committee’s organizing prowess.
But this time around, Democrats say, the signs appear to be the target of a wider-scale vandalism effort. Signs “along Sycamore Street between Williamsburg Circle and Lee Highway, and on Little Falls Road at Lexington Street were either destroyed or vandalized” over the weekend, according to the press release.
The latter intersection is about a 15 minute walk from where a church’s Black Lives Matter sign was vandalized in June.
“We always get a certain amount of vandalism, but the vandals are off to a fast and aggressive start this year,” Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo wrote in an email to the Arlington County Police Department, reporting the crimes. At Little Falls Road, “it looks like someone actually drove onto the median in order to run over the signs.”
“Arlington Dems understand the police department has more urgent issues to address, but wanted to document the destruction,” the press release adds.
Arlington Republicans tell ARLnow that the Democrats tried to pressure them into condemning the vandalism, which the local GOP says is nothing new.
“This is every election cycle’s ‘dog bites man’ non-story,” Arlington GOP Chair Andrew Loposser said in an email to ARLnow last night. “Nearly every candidate’s signs — regardless of political party — get vandalized at some point during the campaign, usually by bored high school kids.”
“Arlington Democrat campaign hacks attempted to pressure us into condemning this vandalism over the weekend,” Loposser continued. “Let me be clear: Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable — whether it’s Antifa and BLM rioters destroying small business storefronts or bored high school students ripping up political yard signs.”
The Arlington Democrats press release goes on to report that signs in the front yard of famed local civil rights figure Joan Trumpauer Mulholland were also vandalized. In a bout of rhetoric not typically seen in Arlington politics, at least among official Democratic communications, the release quotes Mulholland in equating supporters of President Trump to “Klan sympathizers.”
(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) A 26-year-old man has been arrested after he allegedly caused some minor mayhem in Crystal City last night.
Police say they the suspect, who was drunk, first asked a man for money, then — when the victim refused — struck him several times and sprayed him with a fire extinguisher.
The same suspect later threw a wine bottle at a window near the Crystal City Metro station, shattering it, before being spotted and detained by an officer nearby, according to ACPD. Photos from the scene this morning show a shattered window at one of Amazon’s temporary HQ2 spaces.
More from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:
ROBBERY/DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY, 2020-08300215/08310015, 18th Street S. at Crystal Drive. At approximately 10:35 p.m. on August 30, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect allegedly approached the victim inside of a commercial building and requested money. The victim declined and suspect then struck the victim multiple times, implied he had a firearm and fled on foot. As the victim exited the building, he was approached by the suspect, who sprayed him with a fire extinguisher and again fled on foot. The victim was not injured. At approximately 12:53 a.m., an officer observed the suspect in the area of 18th Street S. and S. Bell Street and detained him without incident. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that at approximately 11:55 p.m., the same suspect allegedly threw a wine bottle at a window in the 1800 block of S. Bell Street, causing it to break. John Smith, 26, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with Destruction of Property and Drunk in Public. The investigation into the robbery is ongoing.
The latest sign defacement happened outside of St. George’s Episcopal Church, at 915 N. Oakland Street in Virginia Square. Someone spray painted over a sign with a Bible verse and the words “Black Lives Matter.”
Arlington County Police say it happened around lunchtime Monay.
“At approximately 1:07 p.m. on August 10, police were dispatched to the report of graffiti which had occurred approximately 20 minutes prior,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.
“Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect spray painted over the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ on a sign,” Savage continued. “The suspect is described as an Asian male, between 50-65 years of age. He was wearing a red hat, glasses, plaid shirt, blue jean shorts and used a power wheelchair. The investigation is ongoing.”
On a local Facebook group, the church’s music minister said the vandalism was caught on video.
“We have video of this happening and the police have it,” he said. “Most importantly, we have extra signs. Please pray that love will rule our hearts. God bless you all.”
Another post, from this morning, says that the sign was vandalized again — someone put a sticker with the words “hate crimes are funny” over the word “Black.”
Since the George Floyd protests started, a Black Lives Matter sign was vandalized at Rock Spring Congregational church and a racial justice sign was vandalized outside of Clarendon United Methodist Church.
Civ Fed to Study County’s Form of Gov’t — “Herbert Hoover was residing – albeit somewhat tenuously – in the White House the last time Arlington had a major change in its governance structure. Nearly 90 years later, the Arlington County Civic Federation may get the ball rolling on bringing that structure into the 21st century.” [InsideNova]
Biden Signs Defaced, Stolen — “A big sign promoting Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign in Arlington’s Aurora Highlands neighborhood was defaced with pro-President Trump graffiti sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning,” reports Washingtonian. Separately, a recent Nextdoor post shows video of an older man stealing a Biden sign in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood. [Washingtonian]
Alleged Courthouse Flasher Arrested — “The victim was walking in the area when she felt the suspect allegedly grab her arm from behind her. As she turned around, she observed the male naked. The suspect then fled on foot. Arriving officers, with the assistance of Metro Transit Police, located the suspect in the area and took him into custody without incident.” [Arlington County]
ACPD Conducting Food Drive — Arlington County police “will be collecting donations at drive-thru donation stations on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at three locations: Westover Baptist Church – 1125 Patrick Henry Drive, Police Headquarters – 1425 N. Courthouse Road, Giant Food – 2901 S. Glebe Road.” [Arlington County]
Crystal City Concert Series Goes Virtual — “With the health and safety of our residents and visitors in mind, Fridays at the Fountain is switching to an all virtual format. Tune in every Friday evening at 7pm, beginning August 7th, for an hour of live music streamed right to your home.” [National Landing BID]
High School Sports Update — Updated at 8:15 a.m. — “The Virginia High School League’s Executive Committee voted 34-1 Monday to delay the start of the 2020-21 high school sports season by implementing a compressed high school sports scheduling plan that would run as of now from Dec. 28-June 26. The schedule would begin with the winter sports season, starting in late December, followed by the traditional fall sports season and ending with the spring sports season.” [InsideNova]
Nearby: Break-ins at Eden Center — “Multiple business were broken into at the Eden Center. Heavy police presence until further notice. Please avoid the area. No danger to public at this time. Any information to assist the investigation, please contact 703-241-5053. Thank you for your patience and understanding” [Twitter]
(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) Someone defaced a sign promoting racial justice, placed by a church near Clarendon.
The vandalism happened overnight in front of the Clarendon United Methodist Church (606 N. Irving Street).
A photo sent to ARLnow (above) shows the words “It’s OK to be white” scrawled in block letters on the second of a pair of banners. The banners are signed by parishioners and declare: “Clarendon United Methodist Church is committed to fighting against systemic racial injustice. I will be part of the solution.”
The church tells ARLnow that it was able to successfully remove the graffiti this morning.
“We lament that anyone would choose to deface our sign but we are glad that they have given us further opportunity to affirm our stand against systemic racial injustice and our commitment to be a part of the solution,” a church employee said via email. “We restored the sign to its original intended message this morning.”
The church’s pastor, Rev. Tracy McNeil Wines, also released the following statement.
The murders of George Floyd and countless other Black men, women, and children have further brought to light a long history that bears the unmistakable stains of exclusion, oppression, and violence. We are called by conscience and by God to rise up and stand with those whose pain is etched onto the heart of our nation. We recognize the significant disparities in opportunity for all people of color in education, housing, health, and employment, and in restricted access to security and justice. As people of faith in Jesus Christ, it is essential that we act to dismantle racism.
At Clarendon United Methodist Church, we are committed to the fight against systemic racial injustice. We acknowledge that racism is a sin that works in direct opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we join in the call to resist its powerful influence. Together we yearn for a world that reflects God’s will for just treatment and full inclusion of all persons. We resolve to resist evil, injustice and oppression, and so we cannot rest until the work of dismantling racism is done. Courage and conviction are required in the fight, and we pray that God’s Spirit may empower us with grace equal to the task.
We must take both communal and individual responsibility for justice. Change ultimately begins with transformed hearts. Therefore, we commit to opening our hearts to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. Deep repentance is required. We will seek to educate ourselves and others — to discern the breadth of racism’s impact, to see and acknowledge its effects, and to uncover its influence in our own lives and in our shared life together. We will follow equal employment practices, and intentionally increase opportunities for the voices of Black people and all people of color to be heard in the life and leadership of our church. We will work to tear down the entrenched racial and economic divide that is present in Arlington County and beyond, dedicating resources to aim at both the effects and the root causes of injustice. We affirm that this effort must be an ongoing commitment.
None of us can move forward if one of us is left behind.
This is the second such vandalism of a racial justice sign on church property in as many weeks in Arlington. The “Black” in “Black Lives Matter” was cut out of a sign in front of Rock Spring Congregational church last week. In D.C., meanwhile, a mural “lifting up the names and legacies of Dorothy Day and MLK Jr.” in front of a church was found ripped down this morning.
Photo (top) courtesy anonymous, (bottom) courtesy Clarendon United Methodist Church
For the second time, someone has vandalized a Black Lives Matter sign at Rock Spring Congregational church in North Arlington.
Sometime between last night and noon today, someone cut out the word “Black” in the sign at the corner of Rock Spring Road and Little Falls Road.
Someone did the same thing to a Black Lives Matter sign on the church lawn in 2015.
“I no idea who’s doing it,” Rev. Dr. Kathryn Dwyer told ARLnow Tuesday afternoon. Dwyer, the church’s senior pastor, said there are no video cameras that might have captured the incident. She has filed a police report, after initially learning about the vandalized sign from a neighbor.
Dwyer said the church is ordering two new signs as a replacement, and plans to place them higher, on the church building itself. A community member, meanwhile, has offered to try to fix the existing sign.
“I think that the vandalism demonstrates that we clearly have an issue, even here in Arlington, Virginia,” Dwyer said. Cutting out the word Black is “sort of like saying ‘all lives matter,'” she said.
“When I explain this to my congregation, I’ve explained how if your child asks if they love them, responding ‘honey I love all children’ is not satisfying,” Dwyer said. “We’re at a point in time in our country where people of color are being so oppressed it’s the job of all of us to assure them that they’re loved and they matter.”
Tomorrow the church will be holding the first of a six-week virtual course over Zoom entitled “Challenging White Supremacy: Becoming Anti-Racist.” All 100 spots sold out within 4-5 days, Dwyer noted.
Police are looking for a man who broke a window at a fast-food restaurant along Lee Highway last night.
The incident happened around 11:30 p.m. on the 5000 block of Lee Highway, according to Arlington County Police. The restaurant is not named but that block is home to a Wendy’s.
“Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect, who was a passenger in a vehicle in a drive thru line, became irate while waiting for his order, exited his vehicle and threw a cell phone at the window of the business, causing damage,” ACPD said in a crime report. “The suspect re-entered the vehicle and fled prior to police arrival.”