In brief: Red Hen ruckus, ‘white civil rights’ rally, Republican dropout and more

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The Red Hen is housed in a historic downtown Lexington building.
photo News-Gazette The Red Hen is housed in a historic downtown Lexington building. photo News-Gazette

Red Hen refusal ignites firestorm

When two former C-VILLE Weekly writers opened the Red Hen in Lexington in 2009, they loved everything about the Rockbridge County college town—except its lack of a farm-to-table eatery. Since then, the restaurant has become a renowned fine dining option, and that could be why White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her party of eight came to dine June 22.

Stephanie Wilkinson Facebook

Owner and UVA alum Stephanie Wilkinson, who used to write about literary happenings for C-VILLE and later was publisher of Brain, Child magazine, asked Sanders to leave because of her work for “an inhumane and unethical” administration, Wilkinson told the Washington Post. [Co-founder John Blackburn is no longer an owner of the restaurant.]

Sanders confirmed on Twitter she’d been 86ed, the second Trump administration official to not be welcomed into a dining establishment in a week, although Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, another UVA alum, left a D.C. Mexican restaurant because of protesters chanting, “Shame.”

Outrage—and appreciation—over Wilkinson’s action ensued, and other unaffiliated Red Hens around the country received death threats.

By Saturday night, the Red Hen did not open because of safety concerns, according to [former C-VILLE Weekly editor] Hawes Spencer’s report on NPR. Its Yelp page is going through active cleanup because of non-food-related comments, says the site.

And by June 25, POTUS himself tweeted, “The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”

Trump administration employees are not alone in being unwelcome at a dining establishment. Local “white civil rights” agitator Jason Kessler reportedly was banned for life from Miller’s last year when protesters shouting “Nazi go home” became bad for business.


“An all-too-familiar story in my timeline. A beautiful woman’s life cut short by a violent relationship. The only twist today is it’s my child on the other side of the gun. My son is the perpetrator. The very thing I advocate against has been committed by someone I once carried inside me.”—Trina Murphy, advocate for Help Save the Next Girl


In brief

Xavier Grant Murphy Charlottesville police

Another Murphy tragedy

Xavier Grant Murphy, 23, son of domestic violence advocate Trina Murphy and cousin of murdered Nelson teen Alexis Murphy, is charged with second-degree murder in the June 22 slaying of Tatiana Wells, 21, at the Days Inn.

GOP resignation

Richard Allan Fox, co-owner of Roslyn Farm and Vineyard, resigned from his seat on the Albemarle County Republican Committee, because he says he can’t support U.S. Senate candidate Corey Stewart, who has not denounced Unite the Right rally participants, and who has said the Civil War was not about slavery.

ABC settles with Johnson

Martese Johnson, the 20-year-old UVA student whose encounter with Virginia ABC agents during St. Patrick’s Day revelries on the Corner in 2015 left him bloodied and under arrest, reached a $249,950 settlement with the agency June 20. Johnson, now 24, heads to University of Michigan Law School in the fall.

Cantwell calls CPD

On the same night that seven activists were arrested on Market Street for protesting the conviction of August 12 flamethrower Corey Long, “Crying Nazi” Chris Cantwell called the police department to commend it, chat about the rioting “communists” and suggest they be put through a woodchipper. He was recording as a female CPD employee said, “That’s awesome. Thanks for your support.” According to a city press release, the incident is being investigated.

Access denied

Community activists, some reportedly wearing Black Lives Matter shirts, were shut out of a meet-and-greet at the Paramount Theater with new Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney, who was welcomed on the theater’s marquee. Paramount spokesperson Maran Garland says it was a private, invitation-only event hosted by the Charlottesville Police Foundation.

I-64 stabber gets life

Rodney Demon Burnett was convicted of aggravated malicious wounding for the July 11, 2017, attack of a woman driver on I-64. When she stopped the car, he continued knifing her in the neck, pushed her out of the car and sped away, leaving her with life-threatening and permanent injuries. A jury imposed a maximum life sentence, $100,000 fine and seven years for other related charges.

Drafted by whom?

photo Matt Riley

Former UVA basketball guard Devon Hall is chosen by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round as the No. 53 pick.


Whites-righter seeks permit

Speaking of Kessler, the Unite the Right organizer is looking for a place to hold an anniversary rally August 11 and 12. City Manager Maurice Jones denied his application for a permit December 11, and Kessler filed a civil lawsuit against the city and Jones, alleging the denial unconstitutionally was based on the content of his speech.

On June 22, his attorneys filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to force the city to allow his two-day event and to provide security for demonstrators and the public.

According to a memo filed with the motion, Kessler contends counterprotesters were responsible for the violence. “Counterprotester misconduct constitutes a heckler’s veto and cannot be used as a justification to shut down Mr. Kessler’s speech by the city,” says the memo.

Kessler sued last year when the city tried to move his white nationalist rally from Emancipation Park to McIntire, and a judge sided with him in an August 11 decision that was made about the same time neo-Nazis were marching through UVA Grounds shouting, “Jews will not replace us.”

At press time, a hearing for the injunction had not been scheduled.

Many of those who attended the rally last year have said they will not return for a redo, but Kessler is asking those who want to come to be prepared to go to either Charlottesville or Washington.

His application for a “white civil rights rally” in Lafayette Square has received preliminary approval from the National Park Service, but a permit has not been issued.

kessler prelim injunction memo 6-22-18

kessler motion prelim injunction 6-22-18

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