Arlington, VA

New video and audio is shedding additional light on the controversial encounter between Arlington police officers and a Black photographer in the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood.

Bodycam footage of the Dec. 21 encounter and audio of a neighbor’s call to police, which prompted the incident, were released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Arlington branch of the NAACP. The media was shared tonight with ARLnow.

During the call, an unidentified female neighbor tells police that the photographer, who was at the time sitting in his parked BMW, was taking photos of the gate to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, as well as “neighbors and people that are walking by.”

“We confronted him and he just wouldn’t engage… he’s just sitting there taking pictures,” the caller says. “I’m not sure if that’s illegal but it’s kind of creepy.”

The caller later reports that the photographer was “smiling and walking down the street, taking more pictures,” and then “engaging with a lady,” adding that “they apparently know each other.” She also noted that he had a “camera with a large lens.”

The man in question was Marlon Crutchfield, a professional photographer who’s retired from the military. He was hired by a family on the block to take holiday photos.

In a Dec. 23 Facebook post, Crutchfield said he was confronted by a neighbor — apparently the caller’s husband — but declined to answer his questions.

“Over the years I’ve had several run-ins with nosy neighbors concerned that a Black man was parked in their neighborhood,” he wrote. ” Well… the other day I was in Arlington parked waiting for an appointment when a man came over and asked me if I needed any help, of course I didn’t. I informed the gentleman that I didn’t need any assistance. Honestly — I was offended. Every Black person knows what this means.”

“After the gentleman didn’t get the response he expected, he reached out to a few other neighbors one of them called the police,” Crutchfield wrote.

Bodycam footage released by the Arlington County Police Department shows three ACPD officers and three military police officers responding to the scene after the call. One Arlington officer knocks on the door of the house in which Crutchfield was shooting photos and asks to speak with him.

(Arlington police had just implemented body-worn cameras the week before the encounter.)

During the four-minute encounter, Crutchfield insists that, contrary to what the “very nosy neighbor” told police, he was just holding his camera and wasn’t taking photos of the base. He briefly flashes the officer an ID card — implied to be a military ID card, but edited out of the video — and says he knows better than taking photos of the military base.

“I’m offended,” Crutchfield says to the officer. “I’m at work… you’re interrupting my job.”

The officer asks the photographer, who is still holding his camera, to present identification.

“This is very racist, and you should know better,” Crutchfield says in response, refusing the request. Eventually, the homeowner also begins talking to officers, saying that “he’s with me” and agreeing that the call to police was “racist.”

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Morning Notes

Free T-Ball This Spring — “Arlington Babe Ruth (ABR) is now offering free T-Ball to boys and girls ages 4-6. ABR recognizes that young players will try multiple sports in order to see what sticks, so we’ve eliminated registration fees for the youngest players. The free ABR Blastball and T-Ball programs are excellent ways to introduce boys and girls to baseball, using simple drills, a soft ball and lightweight bats, and a fun-oriented approach that teaches the rules while building enjoyment for the game.” [Arlington Babe Ruth]

Most-Read Arlington Library Books — “These are the books Arlington readers turned to the most in 2020. Unsurprisingly, many top fiction titles were part of a series, and many top nonfiction titles reflect a yearning for social justice and a desire for human connection.” [Arlington Public Library]

Virtual Meetings Lead to More Participation — “The Electoral Board was actually in the midst of conducting a meeting in March when the county government began battening the hatches and closing facilities while the COVID crisis was taking hold. Its meetings since then have been conducted on an electronic platform. There is a plus side to that. ‘Attendance has certainly increased – it has more than tripled,’ county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.” [InsideNova]

GW Parkway Lane Change — “Years of side-swiping, rear-ending and near misses have prompted traffic pattern changes to crash-prone sections of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Interstate 395. Northbound traffic on the George Washington Parkway is permanently narrowed into a single lane at the crosswalk near Memorial Bridge.” [WTOP]

New Year Video from Arlington Children’s Chorus — “Watch this video of a song we wrote and performed that we did to bring some good cheer to the local community this holiday season… After all our festive activities were cancelled, writing a song trying to capture a little bit of the spirit of the season was a way to let our children’s voices be heard. It’s been amazing how much joy has blossomed from such a difficult situation!” [YouTube]

Distinction for Arlington Biotech Firm — “[Arlington-based] Kerecis is the fastest growing company in the regenerative-tissue market in the United States according to SmartTRAK Business Intelligence, which compared industry-sales and market-share data for 3Q 2020 to 3Q 2019.” [Kerecis]

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Morning Notes

County Lauded for LGBTQ Inclusiveness — “Arlington scored 100 points out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 9th annual Municipal Equality Index for its high standards of inclusiveness and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities. While Arlington has been a top-ranked community in the past, this year it was recognized for adding gender identity/expression protections to its Human Rights ordinance and providing all-gender bathrooms in County-owned offices and facilities.” [Arlington County]

Traffic Cam Feeds Back On — After a few weeks of Arlington’s web-based traffic camera feeds being off due to technical issues, the feeds are back on. The traffic cameras can also now be viewed on the My Arlington mobile app. [Twitter]

Traffic Cam Policy Still in Place? — Some cold water on the traffic camera news, from local public safety watchdog Dave Statter: “Cutting cameras during @ArlingtonVaPD incidents is a bad look for the department… Giving a government employee the power to censor what’s in public view based on their own whims and/or a vague county standard sure gives the impression that 1A is not that important to @ArlingtonVA.” [Twitter]

CivFed to Get Aircraft Noise Briefing — “Arlington County government officials and their consultants will update delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation on the ongoing noise study related to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport at the federation’s Dec. 15 meeting.” [InsideNova]

Audit Committee Seeking Members — “The Audit Committee is seeking new member applications for a two-year term beginning February 1, 2021. The committee advises the County Board on County government’s exposure to financial, operational, and reputational risks.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: School Names to Change in F.C. — “After six months of a lengthy and often contentious debate involving the entire City of Falls Church community, the Falls Church School Board voted unanimously tonight to change the names of two of its five schools, ones named for U.S. founding fathers who famously owned slaves, George Mason and Thomas Jefferson.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Morning Notes

Local Dog Adoption Demand is High — “Kim Williams, who volunteers for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation of Arlington, Virginia, has tapped into a puppy pipeline of sorts to bring some of Georgia’s homeless pet population to the mid-Atlantic region where they are bombarded by requests for dogs to adopt.” [WMAZ]

American Reducing Service at DCA — “American Airlines is discontinuing service to more than 20 destinations from Reagan National Airport in January, according to new data reported by the Official Airline Guide. Cities and/or airports dropped range from major (New York-JFK; Las Vegas; St. Louis; Minneapolis-St. Paul) to smaller (Jackson, Miss.; Manchester, N.H.; Greensboro, N.C.). Many were served just once or twice per day.” [InsideNova]

Land Transfer May Speed Bridge Project — “Interesting: NPS is ‘supportive’ of conveying four acres of parkland to VA and DC to construct the Long Bridge(s), rather than just permitting. That would likely speed design and construction, and could result in a ped/bike span that doesn’t compromise as much on width and lighting in order to conform to NPS interests.” [@CarFreeHQ2/Twitter]

Local Wildlife Caught on Camera — “Arlington resident Levi Novey and his wife Alicia have captured footage documenting quite an array of critters passing through their yard via a fence that Levi has dubbed a ‘wildlife superhighway…’ So far their fence camera has photographed foxes, raccoons, mice, housecats, chipmunks, and lots of birds and possums.” [WJLA]

Redistricting Commission Applications Open — “Beginning Monday, Virginians will have a month to apply for one of eight public seats on the state’s new redistricting commission, which has begun its work with a panel of retired judges setting out plans for the application process.” [Washington Post]

Stormy Day Today — “Get ready for a wild weather finish to November. A strong storm system develops and moves through… bringing a mix of hazards to our area in a short time frame, capped off by the potential for strong to possibly severe storms Monday afternoon. No specific warnings or advisories have been issued, but expect a good soaking of one to two-plus inches of rain (and some wild temperature swings).” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Restaurants Get Ready for Winter — “On November 6, TTT’s expansive rooftop bar unveiled a permanent structure with a retractable roof and sliding glass walls that can be heated when the air is chilly. Iricanin hopes the addition will keep the rooftop in use during the winter months. The new structure can seat up to 60 diners with social distancing. Ambar, meanwhile, is poised to open a winter garden in its rear parking lot with a similar heated structure that can accommodate 60 to 70 guests, pending final approval from the county. ” [Arlington Magazine]

Leaf Collection Update — The second pass for Arlington County’s vacuum leaf collection is set to begin Saturday and run through Dec. 19. [Arlington County]

New YouTube Channel for 55+ Programs — “The Office of 55+ Programs at the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation has launched a YouTube channel offering local presentations on everything from fitness to cooking to technology. In addition, members of the 55+ Programs staff host a bimonthly talk show on the channel.” [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Oldest House — “The Ball-Sellers House on Third Street South in Arlington is the oldest building in Arlington County, Va. It was built in the 1750s by farmer John Ball. Later, three generations of the Carlin family owned the house, helping save it from destruction. Today, it is owned by the Arlington Historical Society.” [Washington Post]

Library Offering Book Bundles for Kids — “The Arlington library system is offering ‘book bundles’ for young readers, part of the library system’s outreach effort as its branches remain shuttered. Bundles of 10 picture books or 10- early-reader books are available for pickup at Central Library during the hours of holds-pickup, with a limit of one per library card.” [InsideNova]

Grant to Fund Grocery Gift Cards — “A half-million-dollar grant to… Virginia Hospital Center will help struggling families with $1,200 in grocery store gift cards over the next six months. Health clinics and pediatric units on the front lines of the pandemic are finding a side-effect of the economic crisis: food insecurity and hungry children.” [WJLA]

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An especially bold deer with unique markings was seen going for a morning run in Arlington’s Williamsburg neighborhood today.

A reader sent the above video, taken at the intersection of Williamsburg Blvd and N. Ohio Street, wondering what the heck is going on with the “cow deer” that was galavanting around the neighborhood.

We steered that question to Alonso Abugattas, Arlington’s Natural Resources Manager — the expert in all things wildlife in the county.

“This is a piebald buck,” Abugattas explained. “As it’s the rut season, this buck is looking for does in estrus, and so is taking a lot of chances he would not normally do, often resulting in this being when the most road kills happen and car accidents involving deer happen.”

In other words, the deer has a recessive genetic trait that causes the cow-like spots, and was literally going buck wild looking for a mate.

That may answer the videographer’s question, but the takeaway for drivers is to remain alert on the roads this time of year, even in Arlington. You never know when a hyped-up deer will cross your path.

Video courtesy Joe Blackburn

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Morning Notes

County Video Highlights Contact Tracing — A video recently released by the county discusses the contact tracing process that Arlington’s health department uses to “control and prevent the spread of COVID-19.” [YouTube]

Woman, 62, Accused of Fighting Police — “Upon arrival, the parties involved in the physical altercation had been separated, however, when officers attempted to make contact with the suspect, she walked away and disregarded lawful commands to stop. The officer attempted to gain control of the suspect and detain her, however, she freed herself from their grasp and swung her arm at them. With the assistance of additional officers arriving on scene, the suspect was taken into custody.” [ACPD]

Nearby: Update on Seven Corners Fire — “On Friday, October 30, at approximately 9:23 p.m., units from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and the Arlington County Fire Department were dispatched for a townhouse fire in the 3000 block of Federal Hill Drive located in the Seven Corners area of Fairfax County… The cause of the fire was an electrical event involving the household wiring within the attic space.” [Fairfax County Fire]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A group of armed robbery suspects managed to flee into D.C., eluding a phalanx of Arlington police cruisers after being chased across the county.

The incident started around 7:30 this morning. Officers were dispatched to the 1200 block of S. Ross Street, near The Wellington apartments and Columbia Pike, for a report of a person robbed at gunpoint and assaulted by four people he knew.

The victim suffered non-life threatening injuries and was brought to a local hospital. The suspects fled before officers arrived, but were later spotted in the area, according to Arlington County Police.

While Arlington officers typically will not give chase if a suspect in a vehicle flees from a run-of-the-mill traffic stop or minor crime, per department policy, in this case a pursuit was apparently authorized.

The suspects — described as “two Black males and two Black females in their early 20s” — drove down Columbia Pike, S. Glebe Road, Route 50 and I-395, trailed by a growing line of police vehicles. Video shows one officer unsuccessfully trying to disable the vehicle with a Stop Stick, a device for deflating tires.

Undeterred, the suspects kept going and crossed over the 14th Street Bridge into Southeast D.C., where the chase was called off. The pursuit lasted 13 minutes, according to Dave Statter, who produced a video (below) showing the chase as it progressed through Arlington.

Police say the robbery was “not a random attack” and are asking anyone with tips to call 703-228-4180.

The full police press release is below.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating an armed robbery that led to a vehicle pursuit on the morning of October 16, 2020.

At approximately 7:31 a.m. on October 16, police were dispatched to the 1200 block of S. Ross Street for the report of a burglary just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was robbed at gunpoint and assaulted by four acquaintances inside of his residence. The suspects stole his property and fled the residence prior to police arrival. The victim sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to an area hospital.

Officers canvassing the area located the suspects in a vehicle and a pursuit was initiated, which was ultimately terminated in Southeast Washington, D.C. The suspects are described as two Black males and two Black females in their early 20’s.

The preliminary investigation indicates this is not a random attack. This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

File photo

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In 1900, Black people comprised more than a third of Arlington’s population and lived in 12 neighborhoods in the county.

Over the last 100 years, however, the population and the variety of places Black people can afford to live has dwindled, according to a new video from the Alliance for Housing Solutions, a local advocacy organization.

People who identify as Black currently account for 8% of the population, according to Arlington County, and the Alliance video said those who make the median income for Black residents can afford rent in only three census tracts.

The video chronicles the decisions at the local and federal level —  combined with gentrification, rising housing prices and a lack of options — that have forced out much of Arlington’s Black residents.

It ends with a message supportive of Arlington’s Missing Middle Housing Study, which is exploring options for allowing more types of small-scale multifamily housing, in more parts of the county, via zoning changes.

“It’s time to ask ourselves if we are ready to dismantle the walls of indifference once and for all and build an Arlington where people of all walks of life are welcome and can afford to live,” the video says.

The video comes a few weeks before the virtual kick-off event for the “Missing Middle” study on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

The housing patterns seen in Arlington today were set in the first half of the 20th century, the video says. Construction rates for suburban single-family homes and garden apartments boomed, but many deeds in Arlington restricted ownership to white people. In 1938, Arlington banned row houses — the primary type of housing for Black residents, and a common feature in Alexandria and Washington, D.C. — which were deemed distasteful.

Some barriers were legal, while others were physical.

In the 1930s, residents of whites-only communities around the Black neighborhood of Hall’s Hill built a 7-foot cinder block wall to separate their communities. In the 1940s, the federal government evicted Black neighborhoods to build the Pentagon and nearby roadways.

Although the Civil Rights Era ushered in school desegregation as well as open and fair housing laws, both federal and local, the video says many parts of Arlington look no different than when they were building during Jim Crow and legal segregation. Historically Black neighborhoods are characterized by aging homes that do not comply with zoning regulations that were put in place after the homes were built.

“In many ways zoning rules that govern Arlington’s low-density residential areas have become more restrictive over time, while only a small part of the county’s land was made available to meet the growing housing needs of the area,” according to the video.

Today, single-family detached homes account for nearly 75% of zoned property in Arlington, according to the Missing Middle Housing Study. The study partially links the shortage of townhomes, duplex, triplex and quadruplex options — called middle in reference to their size, not their price point — to policies with racist origins.

A reversal of some of Arlington’s restrictive zoning policies is a deliberate choice “the County could make to correct the mistakes of the past and pave a new path for Arlington’s future,” the study’s authors wrote. If Arlington chooses to do nothing, “the structural barriers and institutional racism embedded in the County’s land use policy would remain.”

Screen shots via Alliance for Housing Solutions/YouTube

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Local historian Charlie Clark has helped produce and narrate a compilation of rare Arlington footage from the late 1950s.

Clark, a columnist with the Falls Church News-Press, said the 8mm home videos came from a Belgian family visiting the area. The video includes footage of everything from Bernie’s Pony Ring to shopping in a local grocery store.

“Thanks to Arlington Historical Society backers and to technical director David Downey of Transvideo in Falls Church, who continues to utilize all that funky old audio-visual equipment,” Clark said.

Clark admitted there’s some cheating, in that the video isn’t just sights around Arlington — it includes footage of Glen Echo Park in Maryland, for instance — but he said the park was a regional attraction for many locals at the time.

Comments on the video said it was a nostalgia trip for many locals who lived in the area.

“I grew up in Arlington, Fairfax and McLean,” one said. “Our cousins, my sister and I used to play in the Lyon Village park, ride ponies, visit Glen Echo during the late 40’s through the early 60’s.”

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