CHS Race Attacks Meeting on TV

writes: I been watching this video on public access with Maurice Jones, Police Chief Longo, and select Charlottesville High school students. This tape is the “feel good” good hit of the year. The statements from the students follow the line of “I want people to know that CHS students aren’t like this (refering to the attack)” when the police actually arrested 10 CHS students. Chief Longo goes on to report that it’s the PRESS’S problem that this is getting blown out of wack. And that no outside group will intimidate him. Is it a valuable community service or self serving navel gazing?

This has been airing pretty regularly on public access — the assembly of a dozen of so CHS students’ exchange with Chief Longo is quite interesting. You can draw your own conclusion separate from the submitters’, though. :)

7 thoughts on “CHS Race Attacks Meeting on TV”

  1. Too bad for Longo these “outside” groups can’t just be slandered as KKK racists:

    SOURCE: Daily Progress (2/1/02)


    Daily Progress staff writer

    A national Jewish group that has long spearheaded campaigns against anti-Semitism and racism says it’s keeping close tabs on the investigation into a string of attacks near the University of Virginia that police have said may have been racially motivated.

    An Anti-Defamation League representative said the group wants to make sure Virginia’s hate-crimes provisions are applied fairly, regardless of the skin color of victims and suspects.

    Police have charged 10 black teenagers in the six attacks. One investigator said three of the suspects said the victims were chosen because they looked white. Two of the 13 victims were Asian.

    “If it turns out that this is a hate crime, the perpetrators should be prosecuted the same way as any other people who commit hate crimes,” Brittanie Zelkind Werbel, associate director of the league’s Virginia and North Carolina chapter, said Wednesday.

    “This is one of the few times we’ve been on the same side as Ron Doggett,” Werbel said.

    Doggett, head of the Virginia branch of a white civil rights organization led by ex-Ku Klux Klansman David Duke, has called the attacks hate crimes and filed a civil-rights complaint with the FBI.

    On Thursday, the group’s national director called for an internal investigation into Timothy J. Longo, the city’s police chief, alleging that he inappropriately met privately with local black leaders on Feb. 8 about the investigation.

    Longo declined to comment on the accusations, other than to say he had forwarded the group’s letter to the city attorney.

    The groups’ involvement comes as city officials have de-emphasized the role of race in the assaults and speculated that factors like class tension or a UVa-city divide may have been involved.

    Dave Chapman, the city commonwealth’s attorney, has not said if the suspects will face hate-crime charges or if the nine juveniles will be tried as adults. The 10th suspect is an 18-year-old male.

    “The investigation is still continuing, and we’re reviewing the evidence in detail with all aspects in mind, including the culpability of those who haven’t been charged and the possibility of penalty enhancements,” Chapman said.

    Police said two white teenagers and an undisclosed number of black teenagers were interviewed but not arrested.

    Longo said everyone will be treated fairly.

    “I don’t mind anyone looking in on what’s going on now in Charlottesville because in the end I think we’ll emerge as a model community,” Longo said.

    Daniel Alexander, rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville, said he hesitates to draw conclusions about the attacks.

    “Some of the things I’ve heard said by people who know more than I do say that we should be cautious in coming to any kind of judgment,” Alexander said.

  2. This whole thing is appalling.

    Regarding Maurice Jones’ suggestion that we find “alternative” methods resolve the conflict: Turn the tables. Would our city leaders be this magnanimous were the victims black and the attackers white?

    The fact that the community focus has been on ensuring that the attackers are taken care of is sad. Those who were attacked and beaten are getting lost in the mad dash to provide pathetic excuses for these people.

    If we had true leaders, they would demand those responsible for the attacks own up to their actions and accept the consequences … just like in real life.


  3. Absolutely! If the attackers had been white and the victims black, they would have already been charged with a hate crime. And the black community would have invited Jessie Jackson and other black “leaders” to Charlottesville to discuss the racism and hatred that exists in our community. When did the Police Chief start listening to ninth graders, instead of doing his job and letting the chips fall where they may?

  4. Daily Progress (3/2/02)


    Daily Progress staff writer

    It has been a month since Charlottesville police began arresting teenagers in what they have called a string of six attacks near the University of Virginia, but officials said Friday that the teens only have been charged in five attacks, four in January and one in September.

    Timothy J. Longo, the city’s police chief, has said four of the attacks took place in January: two on Jan. 12, one Jan. 18 and one Jan. 25. Another attack, he said, took place Sept. 15 in the 1500 block of Virginia Avenue.

    Longo also named a sixth incident, reported to UVa police as the Sept. 15 attempted robbery of three women by five female suspects in the parking lot of Culbreth Theatre, on UVa property. There were no injuries reported.

    However, no one has been arrested in connection with that incident, UVa Capt. Michael Coleman said Friday. The investigation into it is continuing, he said.

    “There are 10 people charged. Six attacks are being investigated: five by us, one by the university police,” Longo said Friday.

    There also has been confusion about how many victims the attacks have involved, with one count putting the number at eight and Longo saying as recently as Thursday that 13 victims were involved, including the three in the UVa incident. Longo said Friday that the five city assaults involved 10 victims.

    In addition, police initially said 18-year-old Gordon Lathan Fields, the only adult who has been charged, was 17 at the time of the Jan. 25 attack and being treated as a juvenile, though he was 18 when arrested.

    Investigators later said Fields was 18 at the time of the assault. He is being tried as an adult.

    “No one intentionally has been given any misinformation,” Longo said Friday.

    All the suspects except Fields are juveniles. All face charges ranging from misdemeanor assault to robbery to malicious wounding by mob.

    Dave Chapman, the city commonwealth’s attorney, has not said if the juveniles will be treated as adults. A court hearing for Fields is scheduled for March.

  5. Daily Progress (3/3/02)

    Daily Progress staff writer

    Knots that rose on Davin Rosborough’s head after he was hit from behind with a wooden stick one January night have subsided, as has the swelling in his jammed finger.

    Also gone is the concussion that sent Ajit Joseph to the emergency room two weeks later and left him with 10 days of headaches, though his memory is spotty of the night he was kicked, over and over again, on Rugby Road.

    Robert Benjamin Bateman still has sore ribs, but his two black eyes and the stitched gash in his head are healing.

    The men — undergraduate students at the University of Virginia who were attacked in what police believe was a string of related assaults and robberies — all say they are doing fine.

    Still, the victims have concerns. Some say the tone of recent and ongoing community discussions sparked by the assaults is masking the real issue: that people were attacked, randomly, on city streets.

    “There’s this discourse emerging away from the victims and away from the attackers. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s a bad thing, but I just think it might be somewhat premature,” Bateman, a sophomore from Waynesboro, said last week.

    Charlottesville police have arrested nine black juveniles — male and female, ages 16 and 17 — and one 18-year-old black male in the five assaults. Police have said three of the suspects told investigators that they chose their victims because they looked white.

    In response, leaders of the local black community have formed a number of ad hoc committees — with white and black members — to air problems and brainstorm solutions. Among their concerns are race relations and a “town-gown” divide between the city and UVa, getting the suspects good lawyers and fair trials and proposing how the city can keep teenagers out of trouble.

    Rosborough, a junior from Centreville who was attacked with two friends on Jan. 12, thinks it’s important for him to participate in the meetings.

    “It was a really frightening experience, and I’m trying not to be angry,” he said. “I’m trying to understand what would drive someone to do this.”

    Bateman said he worries that the people involved — victims and suspects — have gotten lost.

    “The extent and the duration and the intensity of the attacks suggest that it wasn’t just a stupid thing that a few kids went out and did one night,” he said. “If you’re doing this four or five times, it seems to go beyond stupid, or making a mistake. There’s something more pathological, more troubling.”

    “What’s really frustrating is that, in my opinion, I think these people are going to get away with a slap on the wrist,” Joseph, a sophomore economics major from Hong Kong, said Thursday, pointing to a legal defense committee formed to support the suspects.

    Robert Carr, a sophomore from Mount Sidney who was with Joseph when he and another man were assaulted Jan. 25, expressed a similar concern. He wonders, he said, how seriously city officials are taking the attacks.

    “We met with the commonwealth’s attorney and that reassured me some, but I really don’t have that much confidence in the city’s powers-that-be,” Carr, who was not injured in the attack, said Friday.

    “I kind of think they wish this would just disappear and that whatever way they can sweep it under the rug fastest is the best,” he said.

    The Rev. Alvin Edwards, the former city mayor and Baptist preacher who has headed up the community meetings, says the defense committee is considering using donations to help compensate victims for their medical bills.

    “We’ve expressed remorse and sadness for them, but there’s some other issues here as well,” Edwards said.

    The city’s top prosecutor said his office considers the attacks to be “very, very serious.”

    “People should not be under any misapprehension that we are not taking this seriously. That’s reflected in the degree of attention we’re giving, the seriousness of the charges brought and the extent to which we’re pursuing charges against everyone,” believed to be provably guilty, Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman said.

    “I do have a concern, as well, that the seriousness not be obscured, no matter how important the discussions taking place,” Chapman said.

    The attacks

    Four of the attacks — on Maury Avenue, Rugby Road near Beta Bridge, the corner of 15th Street and Grady Avenue and Madison Avenue — occurred in January, all after 10 p.m., police said.

    In each of those cases, victims described being approached by one or more black males or females. Some say they were pushed to the ground, punched and kicked and, in the case of a female Piedmont Virginia Community College student at 15th and Grady, robbed. The female victim of a Sept. 15 assault also described being robbed.

    “I heard what was like a stampede,” Rosborough said. “And I was struck with a wooden pole right as I was turning around to see what was going on.”

    A friend who was with him, James McCarter, also was beaten and suffered multiple breaks to his cheekbone, which required reconstructive surgery. McCarter declined to comment until the criminal case is resolved. Four other victims could not be reached for comment.

    Rosborough said he doesn’t remember what the attackers said, but he recalls reaching for his wallet, just in case they wanted to rob him.

    They didn’t take it.

    “It wasn’t about money,” he said.

    Joseph offered a similar account, saying he remembers feeling for his wallet, in the front left pocket of his pants, as he was attacked from behind.

    “I remember thinking, I’m getting mugged,” he said. But when the attackers left, his wallet was still in his pocket.

    Bateman, also, was not robbed. He said he remembers hearing an attacker mutter something like “preppy UVa boy” as he was beaten by three black males off Maury Avenue on Jan. 12.

    Then, the night of Jan. 18, a woman was robbed as she walked near the corner of 15th and Grady. Police said investigators recovered the contents of her purse in the home of one of the teenage girls charged in the robbery. The victim could not be reached for comment.

    The other robbery took place Sept. 15, on the 1500 block of Virginia Avenue.

    UVa senior Alison Froman said she and her roommate were sitting on a curb outside a sorority house about 1 a.m. when a group of six or seven black girls approached them. At first the girls were friendly, then one punched Froman and her roommate in the side of their heads and someone took Froman’s purse and ran off, she said.

    She said city police called her about three weeks ago to tell her they had recovered her purse.

    “We were more frightened than anything,” Froman, a psychology major from Richmond, said. “We were in our neighborhood in a well-lit area, and there were two of us. We were doing everything right and this still happened.”

    Questioning the role of race

    None of the victims interviewed said there was any indication of racial hostility. Not all of the 10 people attacked are white — Joseph is Indian and another man has described himself as Korean-American.

    In addition, not all those suspected to have been present during the attacks are black. A police affidavit indicates two white female teenagers told police they were present during one incident and that one drove the car. Those girls, along with an undisclosed number of black teenagers, have been interviewed and not charged, police said.

    All but one of the arrested suspects are juveniles, charged with offenses ranging from misdemeanor assault to the felonies of robbery to malicious wounding by mob. Chapman has not said if any will be tried as adults. He also has not said if any will face hate crimes charges.

    In the wake of the arrests, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization led by former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke has demanded the city prosecute the teens on hate crime charges. And last week the Jewish watchdog Anti-Defamation League announced its concern that hate crimes laws are applied fairly.

    At the same time, city officials, including councilors and the police, have backed away from early statements by investigators indicating race played a factor, calling such conclusions premature. Instead, they suggest, the motives for the attacks may lay in class tensions, or those between city residents and UVa students.

    Police Lt. J.W. Gibson has said he thinks the initial attacks were spontaneous but that they progressed to planned events.

    He said he thinks the attackers struck for the thrill of it.

    UVa response debated

    The victims’ lives have been disrupted — Joseph won’t walk alone at night anymore and Bateman double-checks to make sure the jogger he hears padding up behind him is just a jogger. But they are back in classes, studying for midterm exams and getting on with their lives.

    Still, Rosborough, for one, wonders where his university’s leaders have been.

    “The university administration has never spoken to me, and I’m not aware of any statements they’ve made,” Rosborough, a history and African-American studies major, said, adding that he finds UVa’s response “lacking.”

    The one person who has reached out to him, he said, is M. Rick Turner, dean of the Office of African-American Affairs and one of his professors. Turner has been active in the community meetings, pushing for strengthening UVa-city relations and cautioning community members not to draw rash conclusions on the motives behind the attacks.

    Froman, too, says she was never contacted by a university administrator, though she says that doesn’t bother her.

    John T. Casteen III, UVa’s president, said in an e-mail Friday: “It is not true that our people have been silent.” He pointed out that the UVa police sent a mass e-mail to all students Jan. 29 that warned them of the assaults.

    Some who were beaten up say the university has responded appropriately by offering the students psychological and academic support and otherwise keeping a low profile. Casteen said students have not organized any rallies or mass meetings to discuss or protest the attacks.

    But Carr said the general atmosphere following the attacks has lowered his expectations of what will come out of the criminal process. He said some of the students are turning to the idea of civil suits.

    “Even if the criminal case falls through, some of the people who were hurt can consider other ways to at least get damages for their hospital bills,” he said. “They shouldn’t be the ones paying for those.”

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