Why are Charlottesville cops still driving this car?

This  Dodge Challenger, seen here in June, is part of CPD's fleet. This Dodge Challenger, seen here in June, is part of CPD’s fleet.

Whether you were on Fourth Street that afternoon or not, you know the car: the low-slung gray muscle car with the distinctive brake lights that James Fields used to murder Heather Heyer and injure dozens of others on August 12, 2017.

From video footage and the shocking photograph that won local photographer Ryan Kelly a Pulitzer Prize, the car, a Dodge Challenger, became deeply associated with the terror of that day. Which is why one of our reporters was startled to see a strikingly similar car—another gray Dodge Challenger—with a Charlottesville Police Department decal, on a local street in June.

Police department spokesperson Tyler Hawn confirmed the car is part of the department’s fleet, adding that it was acquired well before August 2017.

Activist Rosia Parker says that when she saw the car, in the police department garage, it “gave me triggers” back to the attack. She raised the issue at a City Council meeting on July 16, 2018, but says she received no response.

A year later, on the way to James Fields’ sentencing, survivor Marcus Martin, who is pictured flying over the back of the car in Kelly’s photograph, said he had seen a similar car on the way to the courtroom and “it all came back.”

In reply to C-VILLE’s questions, Police Chief RaShall Brackney noted that the police department’s car is branded with the logo for the Special Olympics of Virginia Law Enforcement Torch Run and Polar Plunge events, and “this symbolic gesture is appreciated my many members of the local and state community.” Police participate in the events to raise money for athletes with special needs.

In addition to the Special Olympics logo, the roof of the car is emblazoned with what appears to be “thin blue line” iconography, which is commonly used to show support for law enforcement, but which some have argued is meant to show opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. A thin blue line flag was among the flags carried by Unite the Right protesters at the August 12 rally.

“If the community feels threatened by the presence of this car, and request it be removed from our fleet, we would work toward an amicable solution,” Brackney said.

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Barry BoltonYeah meT. MagillL JFr. Panagioti R Hanley Recent comment authors
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Bo Anders
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Bo Anders

What is wrong with the car? I’ll buy it. Police are the good guys. Remember? Are we now required to obliterate all physical surroundings that give someone “shivers”? Let’s tear down the mall in that case. This community seems to feel threatened by everything. Such is the sad state of Charlottesville, it seems.

douganor
Member
douganor

If they actually took a proper picture of the car, you’d see it has SPECIAL OLYMPIC decals across the sides. this officer has been on the Special Olympic committee and supports the community. I’ve stopped and talked to this officer to find out more about the car and what the CPD has to do with them. He is more than happy and proud to tell you all about it. Maybe we should actually ASK the person driving the car and find a great feel good story instead of trying to create fear and feed on tragedy.

Barry Bolton
Member
Barry Bolton

I love their incoherent explanation. Yes, we welcomed the
killer car into our fleet, but this one — with the exact same custom striping — is not that car!

Logan Grant
Member
Logan Grant

“I normally do my best to not be involved in politics and not bite on how bad the media is hurting society. What the C-Ville is not focusing on in this story is what this car is about. They fail to show a picture of the side of the car, which is an image of a large torch which is the Flame of Hope for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Virginia. They fail to show the large red Special Olympics logo that stands for inclusion and represents CPD’s commitment towards achieving this through out the community. They… Read more »

Strydg64
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Strydg64

A friend who is a police officer posted this same thing on his FB page. Wish I could add the pictures to show the sides. The Torch Run is a significant event that help celebrate Special Olympics. The attempt to try and tie this into an event in the past is irrelevant to anything important. In fact, it just serves to perpetuate negative thoughts.To be honest, I am car ignorant, and would not have even recognized if it was the same make of car if it was not pointed out to me.

Matt
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Matt

Seriously? There are so many reasons this should be seen as a positive thing rather than a trigger. The vehicle was purchased well before the tragic events mentioned and the markings on the vehicle represent something so much more positive. Why not see this vehicle and think of healing and the good things the police are doing for the community rather than automatically associating it with something negative? I’m pretty sure the Special Olympics and all their supporters see the vehicle as something positive.

Barry Bolton
Member
Barry Bolton

How do you know it was purchased before A12? Because they said so?

Kenneth A Martin
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Kenneth A Martin

If i saw a car looking like this on I-81, I would probably run over at least three tractor trailers.

Fr. Panagioti R Hanley
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Fr. Panagioti R Hanley

The only amicable solution for all of this is to continue to use the car as a car and for people to move on with their lives and stop being upset over something so insignificant. This isn’t even ridiculous anymore it is sickening and people are just saying these things to get what they want. I mean are people upset when they see that car on the road if they go to Northern Virginia or travel on 64 E/W?! Lord have mercy!

L J
Guest
L J

Well these few easily triggered residents must live in horror every day since I see gray Dodge Challengers on the streets of C-ville and Albemarle county daily. Time for some residents to quit trying to find opportunities to gain attention.

smilintyler
Member
smilintyler

Empathy squad out in full force for this one, I see.

Barry Bolton
Member
Barry Bolton

Once again Charlottesville police are not just happy but eager to show solidarity with the White Supremacists of A12.