David McNair

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State Investigation of August 12 in Charlottesville cites miscommunication

In Activism, Crime, Events, Government, People, Politics on November 17, 2017 at 1:48 pm

From the State investigation into the events of August 12:
“…James W. Baker, a consultant with the International Association of Chiefs of Police who led the review, said state police and local police each had their own response plans, which should have been unified before the event. Baker said that despite collaboration and meetings in advance, “we were left with the impression not everyone was clear what their roles were.”

He said that in some instances, rank-and-file police on the ground were confused about where commands were coming from and, in others, commanders were not always clear where units were positioned. Baker also recommended a “more robust permitting process” going forward, which he said would have gone far to head off violence. Read the rest of this entry »


Unmasking the Illusion: is Charlottesville finally “woke” when it comes to discussing race and history?

In Opinion on November 9, 2017 at 1:54 pm

monument.jpegNewly elected Charlottesville City Councilor Nikuyah Walker’s campaign slogan “Unmasking the Illusion,” no matter what you think of it, was a brilliant one, an antidote to “Make America Great Again” if ever there was one. When it has come to discussing race and history in Charlottesville, the tendency has always been to intellectualize it, to try to reason with it. Take, for example, this perfectly reasonable C-Ville Weekly story on our Confederate statues, “Monumental questions: Local statues are a lesson in history and a source of controversy,” published in June 2015. At the time, as the story points out, Charlottesville City Councilor Kristin Szakos’ now very well-known suggestion, during a 2012 Virginia Book Festival luncheon speech by Civil War historian Edward Ayers, that perhaps our Confederate statues should be removed or put in better historical context, was well-known back then. Read the rest of this entry »

On day of “crying nazi” hearing, knitted “kudzu” shroud covers Court Square statue

In Arts, Politics on November 9, 2017 at 9:31 am

Before sunrise this morning what looked to be a shroud of kudzu covered the Confederate Statue Memorial in front of the Albemarle County Courthouse, the result of a “guerrilla knitting” effort to send a message about Confederate statues on the day “crying nazi” Christopher Cantwell is scheduled to have his first preliminary hearing. The “guerrilla knitting installation,” designed to look like kudzu, was created by a group of knitters from around the country. The knitters made simulations of leaves and vines to form a large natural-looking shroud to cover the statue with, and had hoped to put it up secretly under the cover of darkness. However, almost as soon as it went up it was spotted by an angry citizen who took it down, called police, and threw in a nearby trash bin. But the “Guerrilla Knitters” recovered the leafy shroud and vow to continue their efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Independent candidate Nikuyah Walker wins seat on Charlottesville City Council

In Politics on November 8, 2017 at 10:09 am

For the first time since 1948, an independent candidate, Nikuyah Walker, won a spot on Charlottesville’s City Council last night. More importantly, perhaps, an independent candidate who happens to be an African-American woman won a spot on Charlottesville’s City Council for the first time since Charlottesville became a town. Read the rest of this entry »

DTM Beer Garden: event could set a welcome precedent

In Events on November 6, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Here’s some pretty cool things about the upcoming Heal C-Ville Beer Garden event on November 18, on a few fronts. One, as unique event, bringing DTM restaurants and retailers together, along with a bunch of great breweries represented, to open up an actual section of the DTM into an event space for a cause. Two, as a precedent-setting step. Will this set the stage for other DTM street fair events?

As it stands now, ABC regulations prohibit restaurant patrons from walking the ten or fifteen feet between a restaurant door and an outdoor eating space with a drink in hand, but the Beer Garden event organizers, restaurateurs Hunter Smith and Will Rickey, came up with a way to circumvent that for this special event.

“We had a unique opportunity through Brasserie Saison to pull a manufacturer’s multi-day event license from the Virginia ABC, which is a privilege extended to breweries in Virginia,” says Smith. “With support and input of the DBAC, ABC, and Virginia Tourism Corp.”

Basically, that means you’ll be able to walk around and drink beer between the corner of First Street, where Old Metropolitan Hall is, and the the west edge of the Paramount Theater. According to Smith, it will be very clear to people on the DTM that the area is not being blocked off for the event, but rather opened up for everyone to enjoy, or not.

Now imagine regular “street” fairs like this, where food and drink is available all around you as you stroll, and shops are pouring onto the street with their wares, and no one has to be corralled into cafe spaces, or herded into an event space at the Pavilion. Indeed, Smith says he hopes to organize more events like this in the future.

Heal C-Ville Beer Garden, November 18, 2pm to 6pm. All proceeds will benefit Unity C’ville [https://www.unitycville.com], a local non-profit committed to racial and economic justice that was started by Smith and John Kluge, with input from many other community stakeholders.

beer garden 2

Opinion/Commentary: The Brazile Effect In Virginia

In Opinion on November 6, 2017 at 8:55 am

There is a dirty smear campaign of a popular Independent candidate going on in Charlottesville’s City Council Election that smacks of the allegations made by Donna Brazile in her recently published book about the Democratic Party and the Sanders campaign. You would think that Charlottesville had undergone enough ugliness in the White Supremacist attacks of August 12 but it seems like the racism extends to a local election in which an a popular progressive African-American independent candidate is under attack by the white establishment for merely demanding accountability.

On November 3rd the Democratic Candidates for Charlottesville City Council held a press conference with many of the local Democratic Party elite in attendance.


At that press Conference Democratic City Council candidate Laufer stated:

“I think the most important thing that heather and I are expressing today is our willingness to collaborate with city council, with city staff, and with this community. And address issues and create solutions,” said Amy Laufer, (D) candidate for Charlottesville City Council.”

On November 4th The Daily Progress published an article titled “Walker’s style of communication unabashedly aggressive” which stated:

“A source in City Hall, who wished to remain anonymous, called attention to her emails, voicing concerns about her ability to work collaboratively with city officials.”


The language and message is too close to be coincidence. I would ask you which sitting City Councilors have supported the Laufer and Hill Democratic candidacy? How might the City manager be connected to the Democratic Party? Could “a source in City Hall” include the mayor, sitting city councilors, Senior City Staff who would be privy to Ms. Walker’s emails?

It is no secret that Walker has been highly critical of City Democratic Mayor Mike Signer and City Manager Maurice Jones about issues surrounding the City’s failure during the August 12 white supremacists attacks on Charlottesville. The State of Virginia has released a preliminary report on the civil unrest in Charlottesville that indicates culpability of City officials.


So this is a two for one deal. A smear attack on Walker supports the democratic candidates for City Council and it protects City officials from the accountability she would bring if elected. Walker’s campaign is unprecedented in the level of support an independent has received in recent Charlottesville history. A prominent local Democrat made a significantly large donation to the Walker campaign indicating that even some local Democrats are tired of the status quo democratic politics of Charlottesville which independent candidate Paul long has recently called “Republican lite.” So it is clear they are threatened.

This is nothing but dirty politics not unlike recent admissions by Democratic Party operative Donna Brazile about how the Democratic Party undermined Sanders campaign. In the 2016 Democratic Primary in Charlottesville almost all of the precincts went for Sanders even though most local Democratic Party elites were supporting Clinton. This indicates that the local Democratic Party cannot brook any challenge by progressives in or out of their party. Here they can be seen acting just like their conservative opponents.

Not only is this just unethical and dirty, it may well cost the Democrats in State-wide elections. The upshot is that the anonymous source in the Daily Progress article smearing Walker’s communication style may be responsible for Democrats in State races to lose when voters witness the level of dirty politics being played out in Charlottesville, basically a reprise of the Sanders attacks.

If I were state and local Democratic party officials I would immediately and publicly denounce this kind of smear tactic and the anonymous source in the Daily Progress article by Monday or they may see a negative impact on voters in the Northam, Herring, Fairfax election results. They should state that the story was politically motivated and inaccurate. If they lose they part of the blame will be attributed to the “anonymous source in City Hall” and their unwillingness to correct the situation.

In addition, The Daily Progress owes the voters an apology for supporting Comey-like bombshells prior to an election and thus influencing an election. The Daily progress has come out in support of the two local Charlottesville Democratic Candidates who stand to gain by the smear article it ran on Saturday. Thus the Progress has engaged in Yellow Journalism. The Progress almost never allows the use of anonymous sources. Why now? Shame on them for violating ethical principles in journalism and for tainting the democratic process.

This attempted smear of Independent Candidate Nikuyah Walker is nothing but the corruption of the big parties manifesting itself in local elections. If the Democrats lose other state-wide elections on Tuesday, they have dirty politics in Charlottesville to blame. I won’t vote for a Democrat until I see this corrected publicly.

Walt Heinecke
Charlottesville, VA

Disclaimer: the views expressed here are not necessarily those of The DTM.

Become a DTM Patron!

In Information, Uncategorized on October 31, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Since 2012, The DTM has been a local, completely independent effort to bring you news, information, perspective, and observations on all things downtown Charlottesville, and more. From the beginning it’s been a labor of love, with some much need support from readers along the way. Now I’d like to ask that you support the DTM so that I can continue to expand coverage, serve as a megaphone for your voices, and offer special services to the public and downtown businesses and organizations. Basically, it’s pretty simple…just become a DTM Patron through Patreon [a premiere online platform for supporting creators of all types] for as little as $1 a month [more is encouraged, of course] and you can rest easy knowing there’s a news source in town obliged to no one’s bottom line or special interests.


David McNair


Rush Job? Planned City Manager review ahead of August 12 investigation causes concern

In Government, Politics on October 24, 2017 at 2:21 pm

By David McNair

According to Charlottesville City Councilor Bob Fenwick, a decision on whether or not to extend Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones’ contract is “underway now” and “might be done by the next Council meeting.”

That news has apparently caused some concern in the community, as Tim Heaphy, the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia hired to evaluate the City’s handling of events leading up to the Ku Klux Klan and white nationalist rallies over the summer —which left three people dead — isn’t expected to finish his investigation until Thanksgiving.

“There have been many calls for Mr. Jones’ resignation (along with that of Mayor Mike Signer and Police Chief Al Thomas) from across our community — this was very much in evidence during the Community Town Hall that was held after said community effectively shut the Council’s post-August 12th meeting down,” writes a local business owner in an email circulated among colleagues today. “ Whether or not these calls for resignations are justified remains to be seen. But that’s just the point. There have been undeniable failures in terms of the City’s preparations and its response to the events on August 12th, which is why it absolutely necessary that the processes that we’ve put in place, including Heaphy’s review, be allowed to happen before council rushes to renew Jones’ contract.”

According to City spokesperson Miriam Dickler, Jones’ contract doesn’t expire until the end of 2018. “If council were to choose to take action now, it would be an extension,” she says. “ I am not sure of the status of any such discussions.”

Fenwick also made it clear how he feels about Heaphy’s investigation.

“Heaphy’s report will have no impact on any judgement I have about Maurice Jones,” said Fenwick. “ I was in the middle of the riot, Heaphy wasn’t.  I was intricately involved in the run up to the riot, Heaphy wasn’t.  I have commanded men in combat, Heaphy hasn’t.  At a time when it mattered most, in the middle of an invasion the likes of which this country hasn’t seen since the Civil War, Maurice Jones was making split second decisions in the heat of battle, Heaphy wasn’t.  Heaphy will be reconstructing the events of that day in the comfort of a board room surrounded by men and women who have no idea of being in the eye of the storm and being advised by men and women who were not close to the action.  Maurice didn’t have that luxury.”

City Council’s next meeting is on Monday, November 6 at 7:00pm.


The Lee Statue in Charlottesville: from Tulips to Terror in a few short years

In Activism, History, People, Politics on October 16, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Occupy Charlottesville protesters occupied Lee Park in 2011, and while that created a lot of local controversy, the Lee statue loomed quietly over the affair. photo: Dave McNair/The Hook

By David McNair

Now that the symbolism of the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia has literally exploded into our consciousness, it’s easy to forget how blind we were to it just a short time ago. The truth is, only a few years before the idea of removing the Lee statue became an issue, you’d have been hard pressed to find many people in town, especially white people, who thought of the statue as being even remotely controversial. In fact, if you’d of made an argument that it was controversial you’d have likely been causally dismissed. Even worse, you might have even been confronted with bigotry and ignorance. For example, take a look at some of the public comments at a City Council meeting in February 2015 that were politely allowed during a debate on whether or not to celebrate Lee/Jackson Day:

“Liberals impose their opinions to change history. Lee/Jackson holiday was only recently subverted as a racist holiday by liberals. We cannot erase history.”

“This was a war about money, not slavery.”

“Im tired of people asking to be treated specially without working for it. Me and my family worked hard for what we have.”

“This sets a dangerous precedent and is a slight to all veterans.”

“I’m ashamed of those in this room [who are] not giving everyone respect. Gen. Lee was against slavery and released his slaves before the war. He said the south was not fighting against slavery, but about an overbearing government.”

Eugene Williams, a local civil rights activist and icon, argued for years that the statues, and other monuments like the slave block plaque at Court Square, needed to be historically repurposed to better, and more acurately commemorate the dark past associated with them.  And while there were certainly thoughtful people here who agreed with him, there was neither the political will or popular concern to do anything about it.

Remember when Occupy Charlottesville, our local version of the Occupy Wall Street movement, occupied Lee Park in 2011? Right beneath the Lee statue I remember talking to people who were as mad as hell about the widening gap between rich and poor, and with the predatory practices of the government bailed-out banking industry, but I don’t remember hearing even a casual reference to the symbolism of the Lee statue.

Likewise, in 2009, the City responded to concerns that Sacajawea’s representation on the Lewis & Clark monument, crouched beneath the two men in bronze, underplayed her importance to the expedition, by commissioning a special plaque to her, and invited two of Sacajawea’s descendent to author the text. The city also invited several of Sacajawea’s descendants from Idaho to an afternoon dedication ceremony for the plaque. But I don’t recall anyone expressing any concern about the Lee statue just a few blocks away.

On an April day in 2012, The Hook’s only concern about the Lee statue was that the tulips planted around it were coming up earlier: “When we photographed General Robert E. Lee two years ago at tulip time, that picture was taken on April 20,” said a Snap-o-the-Day feature. “ This year, General Lee’s tulips are at peak April 2, lending some credence to observations that blooms are about three weeks earlier this spring.”

Seriously, the absence of any kind of controversy surrounding the statue, just five years ago, was profound and deeply rooted. Indeed, so deeply rooted that there are people who still don’t understand what all the fuss is about it now.

But what a fuss there has been. Events already detailed by The DTM inflamed what had been a pretty civil debate about what to do about our Confederate statues, once a 15-year old African-American student and a 30-year old African-American Vice Mayor made the idea of removing or repurposing the statues and issue — nearly 100 years after they went up, we might add. But by the time the weekend of August 12, 2017 rolled around the tensions surrounding the decision by City Council to remove the Lee statue had already reached a fever pitch.

How —when just five years ago our only concern about the Lee statue was the fact that the tulips planted around it had come up early — did we get to a point where people would be killed over it?

Ira Bashkow, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at UVA, recently wrote a smart analysis of what happened in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12, and what we might learn from it.

“And to many Charlottesville locals, the statue they were defending is itself a relic of racial intimidation,” he writes. “It was erected in a year, 1924, when the Ku Klux Klan held open parades in Charlottesville and burned at least 10 crosses, some near historically black neighborhoods, and when Virginia enacted its infamous Racial Integrity Act, prohibiting interracial marriage by the “one drop rule.” The statue is in fact an artifact of that resurgent white supremacy movement, which invented the idealized vision of the Confederate “lost cause” while subjecting blacks to tightened Jim Crow legal restrictions, segregation, disenfranchisement, and racial terror.”

All true about the origins of the statue, but as we already mentioned, “many Charlottesville locals” had not bothered to really see the statue for what it was, to feel what it was, and instead intellectualized its history and meaning. However, the effort to have it removed lifted the veil on what was right in front of us all along, and it wasn’t pretty.

“Although life has outwardly returned to normal, many who reside here remain deeply troubled by the intense racially motivated violence that took place in spaces and streets we traverse every day,” Bashkow writes. “ The overtness of the racism has exposed old wounds and pressurized old fissures. We are not only feeling the effects of the explicit trauma, we are also experiencing moral trauma: Many in the community are troubled by our own internal conflicts and by the shortcomings—grasped only in hindsight—of our collective response to the extraordinary challenges of those two days.”

Again, all true, but how can we be suddenly surprised and troubled by the “racially motivated violence” that takes place in the “spaces and streets we traverse everyday” when embedded in one of those streets we traverse everyday, just blocks from the Lee statue, is a plaque marking the spot of a slave auction block, and that just blocks in the other direction is an entire African-American neighborhood that was demolished without a trace?

This has been a long-time coming, and we’re finally feeling the pain, which is perhaps why we chose not to see it for so long. And the hard part now? There’s no going back.

2017 Best of the DTM Awards

In business, Fashion, Food & Wine, Music, Opinion, Polls, Shopping on September 27, 2017 at 9:55 am

Thanks to all who voted this year. And here are the results. A few changes from last year’s selections. Congratulations to all the winners!

DTM’s Best Coffee Shop

1st Place – Mudhouse
2nd Place –Java Java Cafe
3rd Place – Grit Coffee

DTM’s Best Retail Shop

1st Place – O’suzannah
2nd Place – Low Vintage
3rd Place – Bittersweet

DTM’s Best Music/Night Spot

1st Place – The Jefferson Theater
2nd Place – The Southern
3rd Place – Rapture

DTM’s Best Restaurant

1st Place – Brasserie Saison
2nd Place – The Alley Light
3rd Place – The C&O Restaurant

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