Shortly before midnight on November 15, a houseless Black man named Lawrence was reportedly violently detained by both Charlottesville and University police on the Corner.
According to eyewitness accounts given to Defund Cville Police, three UPD officers pushed Lawrence into the brick wall in front of Cohn’s. A dozen more officers soon arrived on the scene, and slammed him to the ground. Four pinned him down with their knees, digging into his back and ribs.
While witnesses and Lawrence’s wife asked multiple times why the officers were detaining him, they reportedly did not provide a clear answer. One officer accused Lawrence of trespassing on UVA Grounds, while another said they needed to question him and resolve a dispute with his wife.
The officers then pressed down onto Lawrence’s neck, claiming he was biting them, though witnesses say he was not. They allegedly did not let him go until another officer arrived and deescalated the situation.
Lawrence was then allowed to sit up and answer questions, which were not related to the incident, claim witnesses.
Because of the extent of injuries, Lawrence reportedly could barely walk or stand. When he was taken to the hospital, it was revealed he had three broken ribs, and multiple cuts and abrasions on his arms, wrists, side, and feet.
After Defund Cville Police’s account of the incident sparked outcry on social media last week, UVA’s Chief of Police Tim Longo released a statement about the “difficult encounter,” failing to mention Lawrence’s extensive injuries, or the large number of officers reportedly on the scene.
According to Longo, a UPD officer witnessed a verbal altercation between Lawrence and a woman outside a store on the Corner. He approached the couple and asked for identification. While the woman provided it, Lawrence refused, and walked away, crossing University Avenue onto UVA Grounds.
Another officer soon arrived on the scene, and recognized Lawrence from a previous incident at UVA hospital, during which Lawrence “became disorderly” and was banned from coming back onto UVA Grounds.
The officers followed Lawrence, told him he was trespassing, and tried to detain him. Lawrence went back to the Corner, which is off UVA Grounds, and attempted to leave the scene. The two officers then pursued and restrained him “for further investigation,” resulting in “several minutes” of “active resistance and struggle,” Longo writes.
A UPD supervising officer later deescalated the situation, ordering that Lawrence be allowed to sit up for questioning and evaluated by medical responders before allowing him to leave the Corner.
“Upon review of the incident, the Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney has determined that none of the officers acted unlawfully,” stated Longo, who has now begun an internal UPD review into the incident.
One officer has been placed on administrative leave. Defund Cville Police demands every officer involved in the incident be fired immediately, and calls on the community to support Lawrence as he recovers from his injuries.
Quote of the week
“Enough is enough. When do we start fixing it and stop covering up things?”
—South First Street resident Angela Barnes advocating for installing security cameras during a CRHA meeting last week, following a recent murder in the public housing community
Jackson P. Burley School, Charlottesville’s Black high school during the age of segregation, was added to the National Register of Historic Places last week. Burley opened in 1951, “part of an effort [by] many jurisdictions in Virginia to support segregation by constructing new and well-equipped separate but equal high schools for African American students,” reads the NRHP listing. The school was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register in September.
Cool your jets
Just after Thanksgiving, UVA’s football team flew down to Tallahassee, ready to take on the 2-6 Florida State Seminoles. But upon arrival, the team was told the game had been postponed due to uncontained coronavirus among FSU’s players. It’s the third time this season the Cavaliers have had an opponent cancel on them due to COVID.
Five students at Woodbrook Elementary School tested positive for coronavirus last week, and are currently quarantined at home. The students and staff who attended classes with the students were also asked to self-isolate for 10 days. On November 9, Albemarle County moved to Stage 3 of reopening, welcoming about 2,700 students—mostly pre-kindergarteners through third graders—into schools for hybrid learning.
Supply chain training
Virginia is running its first round of vaccine distribution tests, reports the Virginia Mercury. The state Department of Health is overseeing 50 sites around the commonwealth as they practice transporting COVID-19 vaccines, in hopes of being prepared when the first shipments of real vaccines begin to arrive later this month.