This feature, Around the NovaHood, will appear periodically, containing brief items of interest from the greater Northern Virginia area.
A LOUDOUN PATH TO FREEDOM?
Uncertainty over a bill that could give Loudoun County leaders authority to move war monuments has given some supervisors pause about plans for a series of new statues on the courthouse grounds to tell the story of slavery and the civil rights struggle in Loudoun. Under current state law, Loudoun County government cannot move or disturb war memorials on its locally owned public land—notably including the Confederate soldier statue on the Loudoun County courthouse lawn. The obstacle is called the Dillon rule whereby localities have only the authority granted by the state.
The county’s Heritage Commission last year recommended adding new monuments and exhibits, dubbed ‘The Path to Freedom.’ It also recommended naming one of the buildings after pioneering civil rights attorney Charles Hamilton Houston, who fought an important case of the Jim Crow era in the Leesburg courthouse.
Three bills in the General Assembly would give the county authority over statues and monuments mitigating the Dillon rule in this regard. As a result, the chair of the Board of Supervisors is advocating that no action be taken at this time.
LOUDOUN SHERIFF OPPOSES RED FLAG LAW
Illinois newspapers recently reported on the horrific murder of an 18-month-old child by his father, who fired as many as ten bullets into the little boy. The father was under court order to surrender his weapons due to prior domestic abuse violations, and had been deemed too dangerous to own firearms.
Progressing through the General Assembly are several bills to provide protection to victims and potential victims, among them a “red flag law.” Essentially, the statute would enable local law enforcement, under court order, to seize weapons from individuals deemed a danger to themselves or others. No arrest of the individual is required.
Loudoun Sheriff Michael Chapman issued a statement opposing red flag legislation, noting that law enforcement already has the authority to arrest someone using an Emergency Custody Order, or based on their own judgment that a person may be a danger. He preferred to substitute its own judgment about such an emergency rather than rely upon a court’s opinion.
The statement continued to hold that the Sheriff is also concerned that proposed legislation unfairly compels law enforcement to remove weapons when no criminal violation exists, and can be based on mere accusation, observation, or interpretation by a third party. Thus, the Loudoun Sheriff is not concerned when weapons are brandished in a domestic situation unless a criminal violation occurs. While Sheriff personnel may not hold such academic degrees, at the same time they argue for their own wisdom in exercising judgment that a person may be a danger.
LOUDOUN, DANVILLE ENTER STATEWIDE EXCHANGE PROGRAM
Loudoun County officials are partnering with their counterparts in Danville as part of a new pilot exchange program. Danville was originally a textile and furniture leader that now emphasizes 21st-century workforce training. Loudoun will develop an itinerary that highlights tourism, natural and cultural assets and economic development strategies. The exchange program is modeled after the Sister Cities International program, which provides a forum to exchange information and build stronger relationships around the world.
According to a Danville councilman, one area in which Danville can help Loudoun is in enhancing the county’s relationships between local towns and villages. Rifts between Loudoun County and its largest local town, Leesburg, have bubbled up in recent years, including a legal spat over the Joint Land Management Area. Could be the start of something good!