Category: Law Enforcement

PRESS RELEASE: Blanket Gun Bans Endanger Lives

September 14, 2020.

As the Independent candidate for Arlington County Board on November 3, I’m afraid that the current County Board led by my opponent, Libby Garvey, is endangering the citizens it has sworn to protect. On September 12 it adopted a blanket gun ban on County property and County sponsored events, thus assuring that future targets of gun violence are unable to defend themselves on public property.

Proof of this occurred on May 31, 2019 when a disgruntled employee massacred 12 Virginia Beach colleagues in a municipal building before police finally took him down. One of the dead, Kate Nixon, a supervisory engineer, could have saved her life and those around her if she had taken her husband’s advice and brought her handgun to work to protect herself against the assailant–a guy she’d already written up. But Kate didn’t do this because Virginia Beach bans guns on city property–even those owned by people like Kate, who hold conceal carry handgun permits (CHP).

Instead of acknowledging the probable cause of the Virginia Beach tragedy, local investigations appear to be stymied, and state legislators have quashed efforts to hold municipalities accountable for injuries sustained in gun free zones.

Brady activists who testified at the September 12 County Board hearing, insisted that gun bans are needed to make them feel safe, despite testimony from dozens of gun rights advocates, who argued that feeling safe and being safe are not the same. Their argument that it’s unconstitutional to infringe Second Amendment rights absent proof that doing so will make people more secure also fell on deaf ears. The ban was adopted on a unanimous vote.

The issue isn’t dead, as gun rights advocates have vowed to challenge the gun ban in court. Do you object to spending taxpayer dollars on a costly court battle that could have been averted with a narrow exemption? Do you feel that your own rights are jeopardized when others’ rights are infringed? If so, you are probably looking to unseat my opponent. If elected, I will:

  • Restore the right of CHP holders like Kate Nixon to protect themselves while on public property.
  • Say YES to affordable housing, and NO to upzoning.
  • Use bond money for needed facilities not boondoggles.
  • Save our parks, streams and tree canopy and stop clear cutting wooded areas as the first line of defense against runoff and flooding.
  • Exercise the County’s own independent authority to deal responsibly with the COVID crisis.
  • Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.

As a 16-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and current member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms

PRESS RELEASE: Arlington County Walks the Walk on Race Equity

June 22, 2020

I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent for County Board on November 3, and I question my opponent’s commitment to racial justice.

On June 18, County Board conducted a racial justice public hearing triggered by local protests over the May 25 police killing of George Floyd. It heard dozens of speakers point out the County’s disparate treatment of racial minorities, while insisting on its resolve to right the wrongs.

Less than a day later ARLnow published a photo showing three black County employees removing Black Lives Matter (BLM) slogans from the street and sidewalk in front of a Bluemont home.

My opponent Libby Garvey published an apology for the employees’ actions, but the incident raises questions about County Board’s commitment to racial justice. Either it doesn’t mean what is says, or it lacks the authority to compel County staff to comply.

If I am elected to County Board, I will not only talk the talk on race equity, I will walk the walk. That doesn’t mean that I agree with Black Lives Matter on all issues. For example, I oppose BLM’s calls to defund the police, which will result in more violence in communities of color.

I also think it’s wrong to promote drastic measures while the verdict is still out on simple reforms. I do, however, defend to the end BLM’s right to advocate peacefully for its agenda.

If elected I will insist on body cameras–which Arlington police officers currently don’t wear. I will promote the reforms embodied in the 8 Can’t Wait agenda, including: banning choke holds, warning before shooting, and meaningful police incident reporting.

I will also:

  • Say YES to affordable housing, and NO to upzoning.
  • Use bond money for needed facilities not boondoggles.
  • Save our parks, streams and tree canopy and stop clear cutting wooded areas.
  • Say NO to back room deals and YES to the Arlington Way.

As a 16-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and current member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.

Arlington County Reviewing Mutual Aid Agreement With National Park Service Following Lafayette Square Debacle

Comments at Racial Justice Hearing, June 18, 2020.

On June 1, 2020 racial justice protesters were forcibly ejected from Lafayette Park to make way for a photo op for President Trump. There is a popular consensus that this action, which was authorized by Attorney General William Barr, was unlawful and contrary the First and Fourth Amendment rights of the protesters.

Among those participating in the action were Arlington County police (ACPD) under the command of the U.S. Park Police. Arlington police were deployed under a mutual aid agreement with the Park Service to help restore order the weekend of May 30, following incidents of looting, arson and violent confrontations with police.

A press release issued by the County Manager on June 2, indicates that County Board and he were appalled at this unlawful police action. ACPD personnel were removed from the District of Columbia that night, and the County says it’s reviewing its mutual aid agreement with U.S. Park Service. Nevertheless there have been calls to fire the officers who participated in the action.

According to an ACLU lawsuit against Trump Administration officials filed on behalf of Black Lives Matter DC, Park Police were given the order to deploy in riot gear at around 6 p.m. on June 1. Around 6:30 p.m. Arlington police along with Park Police, Secret Service, military police and the DC National Guard actually assaulted the protesters. That gave Arlington police commanders a half hour to decide whether the order to clear Lafayette Park was lawful and if not how to extricate their force from the operation.

The assault itself was unprecedented. According to the New York Times, “What ensued was a burst of violence unlike any seen in the shadow of the White House in generations.”

In the confusion, I think that calls to discipline Arlington police constitute a rush to judgment. The County Manager acted prudently to suspend the County’s mutual aid agreement with the U.S. Park Police, and disciplinary action is unwarranted at this time.

Arlington Sets Up Motorist Speed Traps With $200 Fines

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting, January 28, 2020

I am speaking on my own behalf as a non-car diet commuter, not on behalf of the Arlington Transportation Commission, of which I am a member.

This item was heard at the January 9 Transportation Commission meeting. While there was considerable discussion of the merits of penalizing excessive speeds, there was no attention given to the actual criteria for designating speed traps.

The staff report defines the types of road segments that could qualify as speed traps and indicates that it will evaluate existing traffic data, police reports and citizen complaints in targeting “residential streets that carry relatively higher traffic volumes and have documented speeding issues.”

But nowhere is “documented speeding issues” defined. When I asked a question about how the County determines a speed zone, County staff said this information is available elsewhere in Section 14.2 of County code. I couldn’t find it there and shouldn’t have to. Basic information about a proposed regulation should be in the ordinance itself or in a document linked to it.

Accepting at face value the information or lack thereof provided by planning staff is referred to in public policy literature as staff driven decision-making. Staff driven boards and commissions ill serve the public interest, since an uniformed decision is generally a poor one. The fault lies not with staff, but with the decision makers who fail to solicit the information they need to make intelligent decisions.

I recommend that County Board require language inserted into this ordinance that stipulates what constitutes a speed zone. Otherwise it will lend itself to abuse.

Arlington County Opposes Laws Requiring Police To Verify Immigration Status

Comments at League of Women Voters Hosted Hearing For Arlington Legislators, December 19, 2019

On Immigration:

I oppose an initiative included in the County Board legislative package to the General Assembly that would:

“Oppose any state mandate to localities requiring local law enforcement officers to evaluate the immigration status of individuals encountered during lawful stops or other routine police activities.”

First, this language turns the law on its head, because police officers are required to enforce the law, including immigration laws. See 8 U.S. Code § 1373 and 8 U.S. Code § 1644.

Second, proscribing traffic stops for immigration offenses amounts to selective enforcement, insofar as it requires police to ignore immigration offenses while citing non-immigration offenses. Selective enforcement of the law is a per se violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Third, it is well known that the principal victims of crimes perpetrated by illegal immigrants are legal immigrants. Barring police from citing undocumented persons will serve to oppress the many thousands of legal immigrants and naturalized citizens who reside in Northern Virginia.

Fourth, those who promote non-enforcement of immigration laws are using the issue as a cudgel to score political points by race baiting opponents. This type of demagoguery should not be tolerated by the General Assembly.

On Transportation:

A recently published VDOT report indicates that average speeds are down and travel time is up on eastbound I-66 Inside the Beltway toll lanes.

The likely culprit is tolling cheating on eastbound I-66 resulting from lack of enforcement by Virginia State Police due to unsafe road shoulders from which to monitor toll traffic. I urge the General Assembly to consult with VDOT regarding the installation of electronic detection devices at toll gantries to enable adequate surveillance of road traffic on eastbound I-66.

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