Minutes before a decision was due, City Manager Maurice Jones denied several special event permits for rallies and counterrallies proposed on the weekend of August 12 in Emancipation, Justice and McGuffey parks—ground zero for the summer’s Unite the Right rally that left three people dead and countless wounded.
The first application was filed by local right-winger Jason Kessler for a “Back to Charlottesville” rally on the one-year anniversary of Unite the Right. He touted the event as a protest “against government civil rights abuse and failure to follow security plans for political dissidents,” in his application filed November 27.
In the city manager’s denial of Kessler’s application, he wrote, “The applicant requests that police keep ‘opposing sides’ separate and that police ‘leave’ a ‘clear path into [the] event without threat of violence,’ but [the] city does not have the ability to determine or sort individuals according to what ‘side’ they are on and…[can’t] guarantee that event participants will be free of any ‘threat to violence.’”
Another denied permit was filed by Brian Lambert, an acquaintance of Kessler’s, who hoped to host “Donald Trump Appreciation Weekend” in neighboring parks during the Back to Charlottesville rally.
Curry School professor and activist Walt Heinecke, City Councilor Bob Fenwick and photographer M.A. Shurtleff also requested to hold counter events in the parks over the same weekend, and their permits were denied because they present a danger to public safety, don’t align with the parks’ time constraints and the applicants did not specify how they would take responsibility for their rally attendees, according to Jones.
At the bottom of each denial, Jones wrote that applicants should be advised that future permits will be reviewed under the city’s standard operating procedures for demonstrations and special events in effect when the applications are received. The city manager is expected to go before City Council on December 18 with proposed updates, which include prohibiting certain items from rallies.
In Kessler’s blog post where he announced his plans for a Unite the Right redo, he said he had an arsenal of lawyers prepared to fight back if city officials didn’t grant his application—and he fully expected them not to.
“The initial permit decision is bogus,” Kessler writes on Twitter. “The rationale they give for denying it almost makes it seem like they want me to win. See you guys in court!”
“The proposed demonstration or special event will present a danger to public safety.” Maurice Jones in his denial of 13 permits for proposed August 12 events
Another editor leaves the Progress
Wes Hester, who took the helm of the Daily Progress in July 2016, is ending his little-more-than-a-year tenure. He followed former Houston Chronicle sports editor Nick Mathews, who stayed 14 months. Also departing are four other staffers, including reporters Michael Bragg and Dean Seal.
Kathy Yowell Rohm, 53, was arrested December 6 after 16 babies and small children were found in her unlicensed Forest Lakes home. Rohm was charged with felony cruelty, and already faced charges stemming from a separate November 24 incident at the UVA-Virginia Tech football game that includes a felony assault charge for allegedly biting an EMT and public intoxication.
Animal abuser pleads guilty
Anne Shumate Williams, convicted in November of 22 counts of animal cruelty for the neglect of horses, cats and dogs at her Orange County nonprofit horse rescue called Peaceable Farm, pleaded guilty December 7 to a related embezzlement charge for using nearly $128,000 in donations for horse breeding. A five-year sentence was suspended on the condition Williams serves 18 months for the cruelty charges.
Harris could face misdemeanor
The man who was brutally beaten August 12 and was accused of felony malicious wounding could see his charge reduced to a misdemeanor, according to the Daily Progress. Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman filed a motion to amend Deandre Harris’ charge to misdemeanor assault.
Clifton Inn sold
The historic luxury inn has been acquired by D.C.-based Westmount Capital Group LLC and Richmond-based EKG LLC, led by the McGeorge family. The inn was previously owned by Mitch and Emily Willey, who restored it after a 2003 fire took two lives.
Attempted abduction arrest
City police arrested Matthew Kyle Logarides, 29, on abduction and sexual battery charges for an October 27 attempted grab at 1115 Wertland St. The victim said she was walking alone around 2am when he approached her from behind, covered her mouth and took her to the ground. Logarides, unknown to her, fled the scene when witnesses heard her scream.
Man with a Christmas plan
Will Richey, owner of Revolutionary Soup, The Whiskey Jar and other downtown eateries, is really into the holiday spirit. And he’d like the Downtown Mall to look a bit more festive.
“The entire downtown business group and all the merchants are in shock at the lack of decorations and the half-hearted effort,” he says.
He points to the garlands with lights that don’t work wrapped around light poles, the red-ribbonless wreaths and the “lovely tree” beside the fountain with orange construction barricades in front. “The city requires us to put up black metal [fencing],” he says. “Why don’t they? It looks like garbage.”
Richey—with the help of the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville and city staff—is taking matters into his own hands and plans a future winter wonderland, with the block in front of Splendora’s as a model for decking the mall for the holidays.
He was up on a ladder last week installing colored lights on the nonfunctioning garlands. “The city has not officially endorsed this,” he admits, but he sees it as “fulfilling what they originally intended.”
Says Richey, “We’ve had a hard summer, we’ve had a hard year.” He believes if Charlottesville went all out, it could be a holiday tourist destination. And he’ll be “working even harder to get something beautiful up next year.”
Correction: Wes Hester’s name was botched in the original version.