David McNair

Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

From Comedy to Tragedy: what I saw at the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville

In Activism, Crime, Events, People, Politics, Safety, Uncategorized on August 17, 2017 at 1:57 pm

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By David McNair

The first thing I saw when I approached the Unite the Right rally on Saturday, August 12 here in Charlottesville was a guy across from Market Street Market selling bottled water for $2 out of his car, saying, “I figured I had to make the most of it.” The next thing I saw were a group of Unite the Right protesters gathered on the corner of Market Street and 3rd Street NE, dressed like middle-schoolers going to a war games-themed birthday party, with make-shift helmets, shields, and batons. All this was at first quite comical. The group paused on the corner for a moment, issued an obscure kind of war cry, and marched fast toward the park with various photographers running backwards quickly trying to capture the action.

At the park, the Unite the Right protesters had already gathered in a double fenced off section of the park, and you could stand and view them like exotic animals in a zoo. They all faced outward, pressing against the steel fencing, and harassed and verbally abused onlookers, many of whom returned the favor. There was a lot of vulgar harassment of women from the group, and I heard one guy say to a woman, “You’re a little chubby around the edges, but I’d f##k you, Bitch.” There were women with them, too, and I noticed how they had no expressions on their faces as the men they were with said this stuff. Still, it all seemed comical. Were these guys serious? Meanwhile, I spotted what appeared to be self-styled, bearded militiamen walking around in fatigues and assault rifles with odd assortments of insignia on their “uniforms.” They all looked very serious, and no one I spoke to could tell me exactly why they were there, but at that point their inscrutable countenance seemed comical, too. Were they expecting some kind of armed ambush from some opposing guerrilla army? Meanwhile, various public officials and notable citizens milled about, seeming a little amused by this particular circus that came to town. They could stand safely at the edge of the fencing around the park and observe various white supremacists and neo-nazis spewing slogans and insulting people. I saw friends and colleagues and we had time to chat. A couple of local guys had thought to put loud speakers on the top of a nearby building, and they had the words of James Baldwin playing in a continuous loop. Nearby a guy had set up an easel and he was painting comic book-style portraits of Robert E. Lee and Donald Trump.

20708191_1686411471433314_8139878792168219992_nOn the steps to the Market Street entrance to the park a group of clergy, including Harvard scholar Dr. Cornell West, blocked the entrance and quietly demanded that the Unite the Right protesters gathered below them “stand down” and not enter the park. this standoff went of for a few moments, until the Unite the Right protesters finally walked up the steps and pushed them violently aside.

That’s when things seemed to shift, that’s when it started not to be so comical. Fights in the street broke out shortly after that between Unite the Right protesters and counter-protesters. And over the next 45 minutes or so that intensified. At one point I was standing beside one of Charlottesville’s city councilors as he tried to film the scene, and had to nudge him aside as a smoke bomb canister came hurling toward us. Rocks, tear gas, bottles filled with bleach, and balloons filled with urine would follow. I saw bloodied heads and faces. I saw scared people running past me, other who looked like they would gladly smash you in the face if you looked them. A saw a TV crew flee the tent they had set up under across the park. I watched as an African-American TV camera man tried to put his camera on a tripod, but was having trouble because his hands were shaking so much. I heard someone say, “The cops have vanished.” And sure enough, I looked around and the state police who had been standing along the fencing earlier were gone.

20728279_1686410811433380_2776422500373341158_nI then looked up and a screaming, angry mob of white supremacists and neo-nazis had totally taken over the park, ringing its edges with their home-made riot gear. Not only was this not comical anymore, it was frightening. Why weren’t police stepping in now? At that point, you knew something bad was about to happen, that people were going to get hurt, that a surge of violent energy had been let loose on our town. Within the hour, three people would be dead, and dozens injured.

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Nazis invade Charlottesvillle, DTM

In Activism, Crime, Events, Politics, UVA, Video on August 15, 2017 at 9:15 am

This Vice report pretty much tells you all you need to know about what happened in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017.

 

Private security on the DTM? Local firm, for now, is doing it for free in the wake of the Hannah Graham abduction

In Crime on October 24, 2014 at 11:17 am

Downtown Mall store owners and visitors might have noticed a new security presence on the DTM. That’s because Jim Traynor, owner of Crozet-based Traynor Security & Investigations, has taken it upon himself to add additional Mall security in the wake of the abduction of UVA student Hannah Graham.

“ No one hired my firm to provide security to the Downtown Mall,” says Traynor. “  I did it on my own because I feel they should have security there.  Especially after the Hannah Graham abduction.”

Traynor says that he and his officers have been getting good feedback from store owners, restaurant owners, and pedestrians about the volunteer patrols, with many saying that “it’s been long overdue to have security at the Downtown Mall.”

“Unfortunately, I can’t provide the Security for free much longer,” says Traynor. “ Even though I’m not getting paid by anyone, I have to pay my officers.”

When asked, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said he was unaware of any private security presence on the DTM.

“I have offered my services to them [the police] and they told me no they don’t need it,” said Traynor.

At the time of this post, Longo had not yet responded to questions about the appropriateness and/or legality of Traynor’s efforts. Stay tuned.

DTM more dangerous for women than UVA? Stats, evidence suggest otherwise

In Crime on October 4, 2014 at 7:47 pm

USA today shotDTM safety has again become the focus of national news in light of the disappearance of Hannah Graham, who was last seen outside Tempo restaurant on September 13. A recent article in USAToday ran with the theme of “differing sense of security” between UVA campus and the Downtown Mall area, suggesting the DTM is far more dangerous.

“It’s never been safe down here late at night,” says a Mall waitress. “People think that because the campus is so safe and secure, it’s safe everywhere in Charlottesville. It’s just not.”

Really? USA Today seems to have neglected the recently released UVA crime data for 2013, during which there were 15 reported rapes and fondlings on grounds. Past reports say there were 14 in 2012, 14 in 2011, and 17 reported rapes in 2010. In addition, UVA is currently under federal investigation for allegedly mishandling the investigation of a 2011 rape of a third-year UVA student. Heck, there’s even a website called UVA Victims of Rape. Oh, and as you may recall, the same weekend Hannah Graham disappeared, UVA police reported there were two reported sexual assaults, one near Wertland Street, and another on nearby 15th Street NW.

While current crime stats for the DTM weren’t immediately available, this reporter viewed crime stats on the Mall area for 2013 last year, and while there were a number of public disturbances, simple assaults, and other minor crimes, rapes were non-existent.

Not sure where this “the Mall is dangerous” stuff is coming from, as the statistical evidence clearly doesn’t back that notion up. Maybe its because the Mall is an urban setting, with different kinds of people? Who knows. But when it comes to violence against women around here, we’d say the New York Times got it right.

Important to focus on this: where did Graham and Matthew go after they left Tempo?

In Crime on September 27, 2014 at 2:27 pm

PX8314903USA-VIRGI_3049121bGraham and Matthew were last seen walking away from Temp restaurant at 1:45am on Saturday, September 13 toward the Downtown Mall. Did they turn left, in which case others might have seen them walking along the Mall, or did they turn right toward the Pavilion? Or did they continue straight up 5th Street? Also, might anyone have seen them at Lucky 7 on Market, the only place around the Mall open after 2am? I find it hard to believe that they left Tempo and walked toward the Mall and that no one else saw them after that. Spread the word! Did anyone see them after that? Speak up!

Exclusive from Coy Barefoot: The Hours Before LJ Met Hannah

In Crime on September 26, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Did you see Hannah Graham or Jesse Matthew on the DTM in the hours after 1:00am on Saturday, September 13? Please consider speaking up if you did. Here’s the most detailed account of the hours before Graham disappeared:

“He kept trying to put his hands on my legs, above and below the knee,” the young woman says. “He’d been way too aggressive all night, putting his arm around me, picking me up, putting his hands on my legs. I looked at him and told him to keep his hands off of me.” They were in Tempo Restaurant on Fifth Street in downtown Charlottesville. It was shortly after midnight, in the early morning hours of Saturday, September 13.

The woman is a 25-year old resident of Charlottesville. The man is 32-year old Jesse “LJ” Matthew, who was arrested September 25 in Galveston, Texas on a charge of Abduction With Intent to Defile in the case involving the still-unexplained disappearance of second-year University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.

Hannah was last seen by an eye witness walking with LJ Matthew in the early morning hours of Saturday, September 13. She appeared heavily intoxicated, the witness told me, slouched against him, not quite able to walk on her own. They were seen together outside Tempo, the same restaurant where just about an hour before, another woman had told him to get his hands off of her. I ask that young woman what one thing she remembered most about that night. She thinks for a moment and says with a steady stare, “That he creeped me the fuck out.” MORE

Real Knock Out: brick and punch-throwing attacker arrested on the DTM

In Crime on March 25, 2014 at 3:07 pm
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27-year old Altonio F. Turner was arrested March 22 for assault, and throwing a brick through a car window on the DTM.. Charlottesville Police mugshot.

On the heels of the recent false “Knock Out” story on the DTM, it appears there was a real random assault (Note: this does not appear to be a “knock out” game attack) on the DTM on Saturday, March 22, which resulted in the arrest of 27-year old Altonio F. Turner on the 100 block of the East Main Street at approximately 7:45pm. According to a witness, the incident began when Turner, who was accompanied by an older man, threw a bottle at a car on First Street and seemed to be agitated. The witness, who wished to remain anonymous, says he was walking down First Street past the store Petit Bebe when Turner started asking him, angrily, if he “had something to say.” The witness says they were about 10 feet away from Turner when he responded, saying, “no.” Turner then came at the witness and punched him in the face.

“It happened very, very fast,” says the witness, “then he started walking up the mall and turned again and started in with the whole “you got something to say” thing again.”

When Turner got to the top of First Street, the witness reports, he walked up to three guys and “clocked” one of them.

“That guy was bleeding pretty bad,” says the witness, “so he walked down to the Southern and some folks at the Southern got him napkins and such. Then his friends took him to the hospital.”

According to a Charlottesville police report, Turner then walked up to East Market Street and ended up throwing a brick through the window of a passing car. There was a child in the back seat of the car who got hit with glass, but suffered no life threatening injuries and was treated and released from UVA Hospital.

“The older guy who was with him kept apologizing for him,” says the witness,” saying he had had a bad day.”

Turner has been charged with one felony; throwing a missile at a moving vehicle, and two misdemeanors; destruction of private property, and assault. According to Charlottesville General District Court records, Turner has been charged several times before, dating back to 2007, with assault and destruction of property.

The witness, who says he doesn’t plan to file charges, offered a unique take on the experience.

“Honestly, I appreciated the blow to the face,” he says. “Came at a good point in my life. It got me thinking about cycles of behavior and the need to break them. I found it somewhat depressing to think the guy is going (back?) into the system. He’ll just come out even more violent and angry and next time and maybe he gets a gun.”

This is a developing story. Stay turned for more details.

Knock Out Knocked Out: parties on both sides convicted of assault in Mall beating case

In Crime on March 22, 2014 at 12:43 pm
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Marc Adams appears in court on March 21. Image from a Newsplex screen grab.

Those involved in the so-called “knock out” attack on the Downtown Mall on December 20 had their day in court on Friday, March 21…but let’s back track a bit.

Back in December, Cville Weekly ran a story about a white couple who claimed they were brutally attacked and beaten on the DTM (one man into unconsciousness) by three black men for absolutely no reason, and speculated that it was a “knock out” game attack done for mere sport and fun. In addition, they criticized the Charlottesville police for their handling of the investigation. They also described the incident on Facebook, with one victim saying they “truly believed it was straight up sociopathic violence a la clockwork orange without prejudice or rhyme or reason.”

That version of events, along with accusation of police incompetence by the victims, catapulted the story into the national spotlight, painting a picture of a horrific case of black-on-white mob violence on the DTM. The DTM later interviewed the accused attackers, who told a different story.

So, what really happened? According to court testimony, this is pretty much how it went down:

–Two black men, Malcolm Stevenson and Richard Spears, were on their way home late at night when they saw Jeanne Doucette and Marc Adams beside the Wells Fargo Bank. Spears was quite drunk.

—Adams was very drunk and Doucette was holding him up.

—Spears laughed at them, and when Adams fell to the ground on his own, both Spears and Stevenson laughed.

—Doucette got upset and went up to Spears and pushed him (Spears told the DTM she also called him a “black faggot.” Both Stevenson and Spears are openly gay.)

–Spears then struck Doucette in the face.

–Stevenson then came over to try to break things up, and apparently ended up holding Adam and then letting him go. Since Adams was drunk, he fell heavily to the ground.

For their participation in the incident, Stevenson, Spears, and Doucette were all convicted of assault. Adams was not, as he did not push or strike anyone. Stevenson received 10 days in jail, Spears received in 40 days jail, while Doucette received a $100 fine. Are the sentences fair? People can certainly argue about that.

“We’re happy that one of the accusers was at least found guilty for her role in starting the incident,” says Kiara Redd Martin, a young activist and friend of the accused, who helped organize a protest in front of the Cville Weekly offices,” and Ms. Doucette’s report of the attack to the Cville Weekly was disproved by witnesses.”

Still, Martin says she’s baffled by the differences in the sentencing, especially because witnesses made it clear that there was a third suspect who played a role in the incident. Stevenson maintains that a third black male, who they did not know, intervened and struck Adams in the face.

“However, there’s no doubt in my mind that heavily intoxicated people from both parties, some way more intoxicated than others, used poor judgement and got themselves into a situation that could have been avoided,” says Martin. “In the end, though, the evidence and testimonies by officers, a bouncer, and witnesses proved that this was not a random unprovoked attack by three black males as Doucette characterized it in the media.”

Attacker had “unsettling interest” in Toscano family

In Crime, People on February 27, 2014 at 12:49 pm

toscano-family-2011Del. David Toscano just released a statement regarded the burglary/assault that took place at his home. Here it is:

Charlottesville, VA–February 27, 2014–Nancy Tramontin met Claire Ogilvie in the fall of 2010, when the Toscano family participated in a Semester at Sea voyage. Semester at Sea is a shipboard program for global study, operated by a nonprofit sponsored by the University of Virginia. Ms. Ogilvie was not an employee, but was a “lifelong learner” on the program. She befriended Nancy and David’s son, tutoring him during the voyage.

The Toscanos and Ms. Ogilvie became friends over the course of the voyage, and after they returned Claire moved to Charlottesville early in 2011. Nancy helped Ms. Ogilvie settle in, including her in family holidays, and community events and generally trying to welcome her to the community.

In 2012, Nancy became concerned that Ms. Ogilvie had developed an unsettling interest in the Toscano family. The family reduced their contact, beginning in the early summer, and saw her for the last time in fall 2012. Before the attack, Nancy and the Toscanos had not seen Ms. Ogilvie in over a year.

Nancy and the Toscano family are still reeling from this incident, and appreciate all the love and support that has been sent their way. Throughout this their number one priority has been their son. They ask for continued privacy during the ongoing investigation as they try to recover from the attack. This incident highlights the complexity and challenge of mental health issues, which affect our whole community and require a community response.

Delegate David Toscano’s wife injured in assault/burglary

In Crime on February 25, 2014 at 4:28 pm
Claire Kennedy Ogilvie, 35 of Charlottesville, was apparently known to the Toscanos. She is being held without bond at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail.

Claire Kennedy Ogilvie, 35 of Charlottesville, was apparently known to the Toscanos. She is being held without bond at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail.

Charlottesville Police are reporting that a Burglary/Abduction/Assault took place at the home of  Delegate David Toscano yesterday. Toscano’s wife, Nancy Tramontin. suffered non-life threatening injuries as the result of this incident. She was treated at MJH and released. According to a release, police have arrested Claire Kennedy Ogilvie (pictured), 35 of Charlottesville, in connection with the incident, who has been charged with malicious wounding, abduction, and burglary. Ogilvie was known to Delegate Toscano and his wife. Police believe this in an isolated incident and it is still under investigation.

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