Last weekend during a protest against Monsanto in Carytown a police car drove over a tall bike as its rider dismounted. It’s just after the 1:45 mark in the video above. Protesters report the rider was given a summons for riding against traffic.
Organizers say 350 people turned out for the protest.
This peaceful assembly of more than 350 Richmond citizens, organized by members of Renew Richmond, Wingnut Anarchist Collective, and other concerned individuals, was in protest of AgriGiant Monsanto, the world’s leading seed producer as well as the largest producer of Genetically Engineered (GE) Seeds and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).
Today (Friday), cycling advocates are holding a five-mile “Critical Mass” ride through Richmond. It leaves from Monroe Park at 6 p.m. On the event’s Facebook page, organizers say the goal is to raise cycling awareness. Similar rides take place in cities around the country, and often riders fill streets and ignore signals, causing traffic backups and generally pissing off drivers.
Organizers were not reachable for comment, but their promotional materials gave no indication that they would be disobeying traffic laws or going out of their way to disrupt other vehicles’ use of the road. Still, cycling advocates worried the event could strain relations between drivers and cyclists in the city.
“Going out of your way to break rules won’t help the position of cyclists in Richmond,” says Michael Gilbert, formerly of Ride Richmond. He says his hope is that riders will stress adherence to traffic laws and sharing the road with cars. ”If you don’t follow the rules you only confirm the bias,” he says.
Find out more about the ride on the event’s Facebook page.
(F.T. Rea made the video of the Monsanto protest.)
Richmond’s first adult entertainment expo will continue as planned Saturday planned despite late attempts to stop the event.
First the host hotel, The Clarion on North Boulevard, said it was trying to back out of its contract to serve as the event’s venue because it didn’t line up with their “new image”. Then The Richmond Justice Initiative, an anti human trafficking group, said it was reaching out to area faith leaders in an effort to organize an official response and discourage Richmonders from attending.
The event’s spokeswoman, Sundari Prasad, says organizers made one change: the after party has been moved to a “friendlier venue”, the Encore Ultra Lounge on South 12th Street.
She said organizers had always expected some pushback from more conservative residents. She views the event as an opportunity to help Richmond overcome its “prudish tendencies.”
The event runs from 2 to 10 p.m. -- details are at the event’s website, which is probably NSFW.
On Tuesday Richmond City Council issued an official proclamation: June 2013 is Richmond Lesbian Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.
The proclamation included soaring statements about equality in the city, noting among other things that Richmond is a diverse community and “each of us should have the same equal rights, benefits and responsibilities that are shared and enjoyed by all.”
Later at the same meeting the feel-good rhetoric came back down to earth and met the cold, hard reality of life on the ground in the Commonwealth of Virginia when the council adopted a draft of new personnel rules for city employees that had been edited to soften a statement of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation.
As originally drafted, the document stated that among its goals is “to provide equal employment opportunity to City employees and applicants for employment on the basis of merit and fitness without regard to:
… race, age, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, disability or membership in other protected groups or any other condition which might constitute illegal discrimination.
The amendment adopted by council adds a parenthetical disclaimer behind the words sexual orientation: “to the extent now or hereafter permitted or required by law.”
City Attorney Allen Jackson says current state law does not authorize localities to create a “protected class” based on sexual orientation. He says he’s not sure how the words made it into the original document -- but he said the amendment was put in to bring the city back into compliance with state law and so the document wouldn’t have to be edited “in case the state law changes.”
Geronimo Aguilar surrendered to the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force at his Richmond home on Tuesday afternoon after authorities in Fort Worth, Texas, issued a warrant for his arrest. Aguilar, who goes by Pastor G, founded the Richmond Outreach Center, a mega-church in south Richmond.
Aguilar is charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14, according to a statement released Tuesday by Richmond Police.
Aguilar's lawyer, David Carlson, blasted Fort Worth police in a Tuesday night interview with Style. He says the decision to issue a fugitive warrant and take his client into custody was inappropriate because he'd told police Aguilar was willing to cooperate and had hired an attorney to represent him in Texas.
"We would have very easily taken him to Texas," Carlson says. "There was no reason to take him in as a fugitive when it's quite the contrary."
Carlson says a reporter at WRIC-TV8 received and reported news Monday night that the warrant had been issued before Carlson was given notice on behalf of his client. TV8 first reported that investigators had reopened the case that goes back to allegations first made in the 1990s.
"Given the level of cooperation that I had extended to them I would have expected better than that," Carson says. "But now that I know the caliber of what I'm dealing with I'm going to respond and act professionally, accordingly. ... The case is 17 years old. Seventeen."
As we detailed in an article last week, this isn't the first time Aguilar has faced such accusations:
Two sisters took to an online message board in May 2011 to denounce Aguilar... The women's message was persistent and captured Aguilar's attention: They alleged that the spiritual leader had repeatedly molested their 16-year-old niece, according to a pair of civil lawsuits filed by Aguilar in Richmond Circuit Court in August 2011. The lawsuits, each asking for more than $10 million in damages, accuse the women of defaming and inflicting emotional distress on Aguilar. more
Carlson says Aguilar is currently in police custody in Richmond pending a hearing Wednesday. Here's the statement Richmond Police released Tuesday:
The Fort Worth Police Department Crimes Against Children Unit (CACU) received a report of sexual abuse of a child, from law enforcement officials in Anaheim, California. The allegations were that two females made an outcry of sexual abuse by Geronimo Aguilar. Both victims were juveniles at the time of the alleged offenses and are now adults.
This case was assigned to Fort Worth Police Detective Nash. Detective Nash investigated the case and determined that there was probable cause to believe that Aguilar had committed the offense of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Under 14. After consulting with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office, Detective Nash generated two (2) probable cause arrest warrants for those charges, one for each victim.
Due to the age of the victims at the time of the offense, this is an “Aggravated” charge. Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Under 14 is a 1st degree felony in the State of Texas and is punishable by 5-99 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Mr. Aguilar surrendered without incident to the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force at his home in Richmond, Virginia about 4:00 p.m., local time.
No other information will be released at this time.
The Redskins training camp in Richmond is on schedule for a July opening and officials are proud and happy.
During a hard hat tour of the facility, Bruce Allen, the general manager of Redskins, digs deep to convey the powerful emotions he’s feeling, invoking the 1989 feel-good classic “Field of Dreams” throughout his short remarks:
You know, when you’re sitting here, you can’t help but think of that movie line: “Build it and they will come.” Well, when the governor and the mayor first brought this up to us seven, eight months ago, we said, “Let’s see what we can do.” And sure enough, we’re building the field of dreams for our players and this community.
At the University of Richmond, I learned one lesson in real estate in business school. And the maxim they said was location, location, location. And here next to the Science Museum of Virginia and the Children’s Museum of Richmond is a perfect location. Because collectively we have three objectives: One, we want to positively effect one child’s life every practice. We want to have great growth and stimulate the economy locally. And we want to prepare our team for a winning season.
I want to thank everybody, and yes, the Redskins will be coming to our field of dreams.
Flanked by two bike-mounted police officers and trailed by his ubiquitous black SUV, Mayor Dwight Jones commemorates national Bike to Work Day on Friday by leading a group of about 80 cyclists on a leisurely ride from Monroe Park to City Hall.
Style Weekly approaches Jones for an interview as he pedals down East Marshall: Does Jones ride his bicycle often? (No.) What can city cyclists expect from his administration? (Great things.) Is he happy with the city budget? (Yes.) Does he think the $400,000 the city spends annually on his security detail is a justifiable expense? (Won't say.)
The questions may be softballs and the answers may be jumbled and barely audible, but we're pretty sure it's the only time you're likely to see Jones grant an interview to the press while he's riding a bike. So savor it.
The full-bearded City Councilman behind the decision to declare April “Facial Hair Appreciation Month” in Richmond appeared freshly shaven at a public meeting Monday, dismaying the city's growing number of beard enthusiasts.
“I definitely wish he wouldn’t have done it,” says Stephen Brown, vice president of the Richmond Beard League. “I for one liked having a facial-haired councilman.”
Parker Agelasto’s beard rose to notoriety in the run-up to last year’s election. He was the only full-bearded candidate to seek office, and the beard league considered his victory over Marty Jewell, who sports a mustache, a step forward for city residents with facial hair. Currently the only other City Council member with a beard is Chris Hilbert, who has a small, trim goatee-mustache combination.
Agelasto’s beard is also notable outside local political circles. Late last month he competed in the Mid-Atlantic Beard and Mustache Competition hosted in Richmond by the Beard League. Out of a field of 24 competitors, Agelasto won fifth place in the full-beard (under one inch) category.
And as an extra in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” Agelasto’s beard was featured in theaters around the world.
Agelasto defends his decision to shave and denies accusations of pandering. “I hope that [my constituents] voted for me for more reasons than just my beard,” he says. “I will continue to … defend the position of all men and women with facial hair.”
Travis Oliver, the treasurer of the Beard League, says he believes Agelasto and has no problem with his decision to shave. Vice President Brown concurs, though both say they hope Agelasto eventually decides to grow it back.
“He’s done a lot of good things in the community with a beard,” Oliver says. “Even without a beard, I think he'll still be a supporter of facial hair in Richmond and in the entire state of Virginia as well.”
City administrators are considering a department-wide spending freeze as they work to confront a projected $5 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year.
Council members say deputy chief administrative officer for finance Sharon Judkins floated the possible halt to all “non-essential spending” when she brought up the projected deficit as an aside during a 10-hour budget meeting May 6.
Council members say they’ve yet to receive anything in writing from the administration regarding the shortfall -- a point of frustration, council members say, because the city charter requires the mayor to notify them of any budgetary issues “without delay.”
“In terms of giving council good, timely information that we can work with -- I don’t think we’ve received that just yet,” says 5th District Councilman Parker Agelasto.
Michael Wallace, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, hasn’t yet returned a request late last week for more details and comment.
A source familiar with the issue says administrators plan to release a detailed report on the issue sometime this week. The source says they would have known about the projected shortfall in late April.
Members of City Council say not being told about the issue until May 6 constitutes a significant delay.
“We were hoping we’d have some details forthcoming in the not too distant future,” says 3rd District Councilman Chris Hilbert. “The administration needs to report to council quickly in a situation where they’re anticipating a budget shortfall, and I’m not sure they did that. From what I understand, no council members got any communication on that. It was a surprise.”
The city charter lays out the mayor’s duty to report an anticipated shortfall:
If at any time during the fiscal year it appears probable to the mayor that the revenue or fund balances available will be insufficient … the mayor shall report to the city council without delay, indicating the estimated amount of the deficit, any remedial action taken by the mayor and recommendations as to any other steps to be taken. The council shall then take such further action as it deems necessary to prevent or reduce any deficit, and for that purpose it may by ordinance reduce one or more appropriations.
Council members say that when Judkins reported the shortfall she attributed it to equipment purchases in the police department, overtime issues in the department of public works, and revenue issues in other departments. In addition to a possible spending freeze, the administration expects to make up a portion of the shortfall with $1.6 million in funds set aside for a project that never went forward last fiscal year.
After we broke the news (organizers sent us a press release, but still) that the state’s first adult entertainment expo is coming to Richmond on June 1, reports emerged that the Clarion Hotel on North Boulevard is trying to get out of its contract to host the event.
The hotel is under new management, and “the expo doesn't line up with their new image,” according to NBC-12, which broadcast two reports on the subject in as many days. The motel is two stories and sandwiched between I-64 and the ball park. Online reviewers describe it alternately as “crappy” and “somewhat creepy at night.”
The expo’s organizers told the station that they have a contract and won’t back down. Clarion, meanwhile, is threatening to not rent rooms to expo-goers.
NBC-12 is promising to closely follow this “developing story.”