Pizza Joints Refuse Westhaven Delivery

Both Domino’s and Papa John’s refused to deliver pizzas at an HIV testing event at Westhaven yesterday, leading to charges of socioeconomic and — enter Rick Turner — racial discrimination. Managers from both companies cited a history of crime committed against drivers in a dozen areas of town, including Westhaven, as simply making it too dangerous to deliver there. Domino’s goes so far as to compensate by offering a two-for-one for Hardy Drive residents if they pick up their pies. AIDS/HIV Services Group director Kathy Baker points out that “whether it’s intended or not, it results in socioeconomic and racial discrimination.” The always-helpful UVa Dean Rick Turner says “Charlottesville has a blatant history of racial discrimination against black citizens,” and that this “reeks of racial discrimination.” Claudia Pinto has the story in today’s Progress.

24 thoughts on “Pizza Joints Refuse Westhaven Delivery”

  1. remember a few years ago when Waffe House on 29 who supposely opens 24/7. Well I recall they would close from 2-3 on the weekends because of the drunk people caming out of Katies. Everyone yelled racial discrimination.

  2. Google took me to a pizza industry site with this commentary that makes a fair amount of sense. It’s surprisingly balanced for something on a site that serves the pizza industry. Makes a good case that both the residents and the pizza delivery companies need to identify the problems and seek solutions.

    But mostly, the commentary makes a very strong case that pizza delivery redlining isn’t by default racism. However, important to note that in the cases sited in the article, deliveriesto the high-risk neighborhoods are made during daylight hours, and are suspended at night. Is that the case here?

  3. One of the keys here is that these areas are put on a will-not-deliver-to list _following_ an incident.

    Certainly there are questions to be raised and things like this should be scrutinized, but on the face of it it seems that all sides of this issue have some solid foundation on which to stand.

    Except, of course, Dean Turner who once again has been helpful in defining the nature of everything.

  4. Your use of the term "redlining" is interesting. The word frames the matter in a context that I hadn’t considered, and one (banking discrimination) with which I’m much more familiar.


  5. There seems to be confusion. Westhaven itself is a product of racism. The city’s first public housing project, Westhaven opened in 1964 to house the displaced residents of Vinegar Hill. Westhaven was all black until a white family moved there in the mid ’70s displaced by a second urban renewal project downtown. From all accounts, Westhaven is less dangerous today than for most of its history.

    Denying pizza delivery or cab service based on safety concerns would be racist only if delivery is made to other neighborhoods with equally high crime rates. Is pizza delivered to dangerous white neighborhoods? I know College Inn won’t deliver to my house in Belmont.

    On January 18, there was some discussion at city council of "redeveloping" Westhaven (as opposed to renovating), with the cost estimates from $5 to $10 million. High crime rates and urban neglect are often given as reasons for creating public housing. Ironically, the same reasons are given for dismantling public housing.

    Will the UVa dean say that it’s racist for black people to live in safe neighborhoods?

  6. Let’s refocus our efforts in addressing the problems of race and class in Charlottesville.

    I have been involved with several of the communities black listed by these pizza companies in various capacities. It is yet another small tragedy that individuals in these neighborhoods are not able to enjoy Charlottesville to the same degree that those in other neighborhoods can. Those working for the pizza companies, though, have the right and obligation to keep their employees safe. If the information these companies have used regarding violence along their delivery routes is inaccurate, and the decision was instead based on racial or other socioeconomic status-based prejudices, then the decision of the companies is reprehensible. However, if the decision was based on actual crime statistics indicating a higher prevalence of violence against drivers in those neighborhoods, then our community should turn our focus away from these companies. Rather, we should be focusing on the more deep-rooted issues in Charlottesville and other communities influencing the violence experienced by the drivers. These more blameworthy issues might include, but are certainly not limited to, ineffective public housing patterns, ineffective policing and/or community policing, and the even more deep-rooted psychosocial influences of violence on the few residents who engage in such undesirable behavior.

    On a somewhat different note, individuals such as Rick Turner do little for the African-American community at UVA and in Charlottesville by implicating racism too quickly in situations such as these. The public already is not open to discussions of race and racism in the Charlottesville community. Individuals who implicate race too frequently, even in situations that are justified, are tuned out by the public. In situations such as this one, in which racism likely is not a large factor, credibility is easily lost. The situations of African-Americans at UVA and in Charlottesville necessitate strong advocates for equality. Rick Turner is privileged in that he holds a position of influence in the community. Unfortunately, I believe that Mr. Turner’s comments in this case have caused some listeners/readers to subsequently dismiss the issue of racism in our community just a little more than they did before. His voice has also lost power in a time when he and others may need that voice even more.

    Moving beyond individuals and individual choices – from pizza companies to Hardy Drive residents to Rick Turner – let us take opportunities such as this one to further examine what we (collectively) can do to improve the conditions of folks in Hardy Drive, South First Street, Prospect, Garrett/Friendship Court, and other areas in Charlottesville. Wouldn’t we be more productive engaged in discussion about improving the Boys and Girls Club, implementing violence prevention in Venable, Johnson, Jackson Via, etc., strengthening resident advocacy programs such as PHAR, and improving community policing?

    I’m glad that this website exists so that public discussion can occur – I encourage everyone in a position of influence to steer these discussions in the most important directions of which we can think.

  7. Thanks for adding that bit of history. Because Charlottesville has grown so much, there aren’t many folks around who know of or remember those events that have taken place.

  8. An excellent post that is very thought provoking. One thing I want to point out, though, is that according to the article in the Progress and taking from the quotations given by the managers of the relevant pizza delivery locations the decisions to not deliver to certain areas of town were not based on crime rates but, rather, on actual experiences of the drives when going to those locations. I think this is an important distinction. Its not that a new pizza joint sets up shop and then says "lets break down the crime stats and decide where we’re not going to deliver." Indeed, delivery restaurants don’t want to limit the locations to which they deliver within their radius. Thats just lost money to them. But, if your driver comes back and says "some people surrounded my car and won’t let me leave" you’re not going to send your driver back there.

    Now, we can certainly hypothesize that some drivers are racist and so would create claims about black neighborhoods…but thats not very helpful and we don’t have any evidence of that in this case.

    If it were a systematic effort to deny pizza to minorities…then we’d have something to talk about in terms of pizza parlors being discriminatory…but in this case it sounds more like the experiences of delivery drivers and a desire to not put them in a potentially bad situation.

  9. To Dean Turner: I submit *you* are the racist. For one, this is strictly a business decision based on violenece that these neighborhood young men (and maybe a few women) have perpetrated upon innocent drivers for these pizza stores. While the rest of us are just trying to get pizza and get along in our jobs, these ne’er-do-wells are loitering and getting into all kinds of trouble. That these neighborhoods and these perps are black is beside the point and not at all the issue. Only the perps, and the likes of Dean Turner make this an issue of race.

    Let me be clear: In other cities with more diverse neighborhoods, there are gangs of young men who ascribe to gangsta culture of all races. Pizza chains don’t deliver to those neighborhoods either. Some are white, BTW.

    Dean Turner is trapped in the past. His " Charlottesville has a blatant history…" comment is accurate on its face, and so very untrue today. This little town of ours has had a change in population since the 60s & 70s when blacks were moved out of Vinegar Hill and elsewhere and put into reservations…oops, I mean Housing Developments, their neighborhoods destroyed and their communities dismembered and scattered hither and yon. May I point out that it was the Democrats that did this!! How ironic. But you wouldn’t call a white modern Democrat racist now! It’s 2005, and the politicians and the people responsible for this (read white people) are dead, gone, moved on. What we have here in this town today is mostly a population of Yankees and immigrants with no ounce of umbrage towards either side of this issue. They are not Southern racists that used to populate this Ville. And those of us from outside this community (some 80% of our current population did not even live here then) hate Dean Turner’s racist remarks because we’re not responsible for your history, and we’re certainly less racist than previous generations or not racist at all.

    If the black community is so concerned with the perception of prejudice against black youths (not our black community, dammit…our black youths who commit crimes!), then do what the followers of Farrakahn do: police your own community with tough black men and muscle these younger men out of the neighborhood. Change them if you can, help them if you can, but when all your "Oh, they’re just victims of racism, or bad upbringing, or an alcoholic parent, or poverty or unemployment, or a lack of education, or white prejudice" excuses for their behavior finds you back where you started, get your black male community fathers and uncles and big brothers out there and get those punks off the streets!

    See, it doesn’t matter what color you are – crime is a choice! And if crime wears a black face in those communities it’s because it does, not because some pizza place or some white folk say so. It’s because those young men decide to do what they do: commit crimes and intimidate people. And they’re black, get it Dean Turner, they are black like you, and you must just hate that so much that you lash out at the white folk who have *nothing* to do with those kids behavior!

    They can get jobs (this town has virtual zero unemployment), and they have plenty of educational opportunities everywhere (public schools, CATEC, Piedmont CC who will take anyone regardless of…). They can act nice if they want to. To now hide behind "racism" simply says that they should not be responsible for what has occurred. They ARE responsible, and Dean Turner is totally enabling their bad behavior by turning this fiasco on its head by blaming the victims!

    Turner is so irresponsible in his behavior that I think he should be fired from UVA. He has no idea how much this makes white folk hate blacks all the more: first blacks perpetrate the crime, then they blame the victim! Now white folk hate Turner too. You, Dean Turner, are part of the problem that promotes racism.

    99% of blacks in this burg are really really nice. Let us not allow Dr. Turner and the misplaced sentiments of Kathy Baker make white folk hate blacks in this town. Let us not allow a *few* young black men to take over the streets of Charlottesville to the detriment of us all.

  10. A correction to your otherwise excellent comment. The following statement

    "May I point out that it was the Democrats that did this!! How ironic. But you wouldn’t call a white modern Democrat racist now! It’s 2005, and the politicians and the people responsible for this (read white people) are dead, gone, moved" is completely false. The city council in 1968 consisted of Mitch Van Yahres and in 1974 Francis Fife, they and others, are still very much power. All one has to do is attend a democratic caucus in the former Lane High School (our Democratic Mayor Nancy O’Brien sold the building and all of the land in the middle of downtown C’ville for a mere $500,000) to see this group of the old central power exercising their muscles. Watch how this same power base kills the Election Study Report. Another fact in history….the burning of the grocery store (Safeway, I think) the ABC store and the "Purple" nightclub on a hot summer night in the mid seventies. There is a reason the parents and grandparents that live in Hardy Drive are still angry.

  11. "Westhaven opened in 1964 to house the displaced residents of Vinegar Hill. "

    With almost everybody applauding this great step forward – Just grab that Federal money and look how wonderfulwe are …..blah, blah, blah

    Put a lot of black businesses out in the cold- never recovered.

  12. AMEN a thousand times. I just wish people would hold Rick Turner accountable for the fire throwing he does. I know where the divisive leaders are in the black community, but where are the leaders who want to unite us all and BUILD community. We need that person to come forward now.

  13. Sorry, dear blogger, for my historical inaccuracy. Just goes to show you I wasn’t here in the 1970s. Note how revered Fife and Van Yahres are, especially by the Black community that helped elect(helps elect) them. Very interesting, their history. Ironic as well that as soon as the Blacks are displaced from Vinegar Hill (wouldn’t want them hanging out on the new pedestrian mall) that Van Yahres buys himself a prime piece of mall real estate. Hmmm. If these were stocks, this would be insider trading.

    Update to 2005: There are huge personal property rights battles ongoing right now over eminent domain concerns, re: city governments using eminent domain to displace current residents then selling the land to *private* developers. How *not new* this battles is.

    These otherwise nice fellows (Fife and Van Yahres) should be ashamed if they actually voted to have the Black community displaced in such a fashion as you imply.And why do local Blacks think that these white Dems are worth voting for? Seems to me they got the shaft, and are sheep-to-shepherd voting for the Dems.

  14. The only bridge builders in the community will be men and women who 1) get the hooligans (no matter what race or nationality) off the streets of the black neighborhoods who commit the crimes and intimidate the people of all colors, and 2) are willing to deal with the real problem: that the culture espoused by *some* black youth (call it gangsta, hip-hop, let these young men name their culture) is one of drugs, violence, intimidation, gang association, no respect for women, no responsibility for their illegitimate children, no respect for themselves, no respect for black women and total disdain for whites and their culture(s). They are ruining their lives and the lives of every young black male by giving young black males a bad name.

    Bill Cosby tried, Chatter, but he got attacked for his sexual piccadilloes (a method used to silence his otherwise pithy words about what’s wrong with these certain young blacks – BTW, let’s not paint any other blacks with this brush….the swath is narrow…it only includes those young men and women who commit the crimes and intimidate others). What’s needed is for the current Back leaders to actually stand up and say: Do it like I did – Hard Work, Scholarship, Dedication, Respect for Self & Others of My Race, etc.

    Jesse Jackson, Dean Rick Turner, The Reverend Dr. Alvin Edwards, Paul Harris, Judge Clarence Thomas, Martin Luther King, Doug Wilder, Bill Cosby, Secretary of State Condi Rice…the list is very long, all are successful and all have terminal (PhD or equivalent) degrees. They all fought racism, almost all had to bear the brunt of Jim Crow and colored bathrooms and drinking fountains and the in-your-face racism of their youthful days. But they made it!

    Why then don’t they teach others to be like them, not so much to fight the racism, but to fight for their own survival, self-respect, and the virtues of accomplishment and achievement. It’s very hard to be a racist when we as a varied-color people simply adore someone of another race for achievment and accomplishment. And why should Turner, and Edwards too, want to keep crying racism? What power would they have as Black civic leaders if they cried "get off your duffs, get a job, drop the ghetto slang, be respectful of all people, do the right thing, etc etc? But when young blacks assaulted a white woman, Edwards went to their defense and even raised money for the criminal kids! They were guilty as hell, and the one kid even said he did it because the woman was white. Where was the outrage at that, Dr. Edwards? He was so sure that this kid was being railroaded by the white system that he assumed racism and he was going to defend this kid against the system.

    He couldn’t have been more wrong. And so, in it’s wake, he lost so much respect from the rest of the non-black community because he assumed racism from the white community and system, when it was the black kid who was not only a criminal, but a racist.

    Turner is no different. But both he and Edwards need to say: Do as I do…as I did! Go to school, get your degree(s), and prove that you are better than the bad things white people say about you! Instead, they justify these hooligans’ actions by crying racism, classism, and old cantations that don’t hold up anymore (whitey holding them back, school system failing them, fatherless homes, poverty, racism, etc). These are old worn out cliches from a racist past.

    It’s time to hold these young criminals accountable, and it’s time for these leaders to hold them accountable, not white America and not the judicial system of Charlottesville. If the Black leaders don’t start telling the truth about these young Black lawbreakers, and their own successes, then nothing will happen and we’ll just keep throwing these young Black lives away.

    And that is the real crime.

  15. Another fact in history….the burning of the grocery store (Safeway, I think) the ABC store and the “Purple” nightclub on a hot summer night in the mid seventies.

    Fascinating — I’d never heard of that. I’ll have to make a visit to the Historical Society to learn more.

    For years, I’ve wanted the city to make a formal apology for Vinegar Hill. (There’s a little plaque up in front the The Omni, which is nice, but difficult to notice.) It wouldn’t fix anything but, like the long-overdue Buck v. Bell apology provided by the General Assembly a couple of years ago, it’s a step in the right direction. I worry that we won’t learn from our mistakes if we don’t so much as acknowledge them as mistakes.

  16. “and the politicians and the people responsible for this (read white people) are dead, gone, moved on.” — twobirds.

    Unfortunately, the politicians are not only still around, they have been elevated to positions of honor and respect. A few years ago, they held the 2 tops positions at the Rivanna water authority–the chairman and the executive director. Mitch Van Yahres is our representative in the House of Delegates, for heaven’s sake.

    So it should come as no surprise that urban renewal never stopped and went on to destroy other neighborhoods and business districts in Charlottesville. Then last month, the Redevelopment Authority said it wants more urban renewal. Only Cville Indy recorded this history.

    Council Beat: Parade of grievances, Housing Authority report (Jan 19 2005):

    7 cars are torched Dec 28 2004 in the Norcross parking lot between Garrett and South, 4th and 5th streets, ground zero for urban renewal. But by mentioning only Vinegar Hill urban renewal, many people now have the false impression that urban renewal in Cville was a one-time-only thing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    ( “Norcrossed: Feud erupts at hip urban flat”, Feb 10 2005, )

  17. some things are not so far in the past as you might think. The start of westhaven was do to the displacement of vingar hill residents. Have you driven on tenth st nw lately. The city and piedmont housing purchased these homes many under city assessed value and now there are many vacant lots, some day they will be replaced with something, but what.

  18. some things are not so far in the past as you might think. The start of westhaven was do to the displacement of vingar hill residents. Have you driven on tenth st nw lately. The city and piedmont housing purchased these homes many under city assessed value and now there are many vacant lots, some day they will be replaced with something, but what.

  19. Westhaven was only for the black residents of Vinegar Hill. There were some white people who lived in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood. At first the city wanted to build public housing in then all white Belmont for them but neighobors objected because they feared that the public housing would be integrated and then there would be blacks living in Belmont. Instead the displaced white residents were quietly relocated into privately owned low income housing. The democratic candidates for city council at the time pledged that they would not build public housing in Belmont to appease the fear that building it in Belmont would bring blacks into the neighborhood. One of those candidates was the managing editor of The Daily Progress who shamelessly used the newspaper to support the referendum on the urban renewal project, which passed by only about thirty votes. Black preachers in town supported the referendum but the black owner of Inge’s Grocery opposed it, even going so far as paying for anti-urban renewal ads in the local media. The city republicans also opposed it.

  20. What does this clown want businesses to do? Order employees to enter dangerous neighborhoods?

    Should the rank and file pizza delivery man be forced by a polictically correct oppressive society to enter dangerous neighborhoods at his/her own risk so that someone’s feelings do not get hurt?

    Especially when delivery people are prohibited from defending themselves. Several months ago a Pizza Hut delivery guy (not around here) was held up at gunpoint while delivering pizza. The delivery guy drew his legally carried handgun and shot the armed robber.

    It was a justified shooting, and no charges were filed. Pizza Hut, however – FIRED HIM stating that he should have allowed himself to be a victim.

    Order people into dangerous areas and tell them they are not allowed to defend themselves – no thanks. I’ll pass.

  21. Maybe Dean Turner should open his own pizza-delivery business catering specifically to these neighborhoods, hire his kids as drivers, and send them off in the middle of the night to deliver pizzas.

    I think it’s easy enough to say "this is racist and wrong" when it’s not you or your loved ones on the line.

  22. I certainly agree that Dean Turner could be more effective in his approach to issues of race (see my last post on the issue). However, I do think it’s important to understand the environmental factors influencing crime in certain neighborhoods. Having worked with kids in several of the neighborhoods mentioned, I have seen first hand the powerful effects that poverty, crime, unemployment, family issues, etc. can and have had on many kids there (and in many other areas as well). When a child is surrounded by certain environmental influences every day of his or her life, that can have strong affects on the choices he or she does make. I do believe behavior is a choice, but a choice heavily influenced by many factors. An child’s ability to make the right choices, then, is compromised when families, neighborhoods, and our society do not provide that child with an environment supportive of healthy development.

    To take the conversation a step further, I do believe that racism and its effects are still alive and well in Charlottesville. Look at housing patterns, the racial composition of high and low tracked classes at CHS, the SOL achievement gap between different races, and recent events at UVA as evidence of this point. True, overt racism is not as prevalent in a majority of folks in Charlottesville as it was during the "Vinegar Hill relocation era," but affects of that historical racism are still profoundly felt by the residents of Charlottesville. In addition, more subtle racism – perhaps less poignant yet still insidious – continues to infiltrates the Charlottesville community on a very regular basis.

    Whatever one’s political affiliations or views on pizza delivery, everyone would hopefully agree that what is most important is that our community makes efforts to improve conditions in parts of the city so that no such issue of black listed neighborhoods for pizza delivery continues. I believe that our entire community should play a part in this effort.

  23. Hear hear. The boy that cried wolf comes to mind. In a society where people under the age of 4o have been integrated- the call of racism belittles thost that have integrated friendships, families and beliefs. We need to build bridges with those who are in support of multiculturalism to bring us together- not attack those who make the attempt.

  24. I’d agree that racism is rampant…that problems on many levels exist and that we should certainly strive for all neighborhoods to be safe because the people there do not feel the need to engage in such activities as are described in this story.

    That said…we should be lambasting delivery services for not going to neighborhoods that are currently unsafe. Why should a pizza delivery company be the one expected to ignore current conditions in an effort to improve our society? If someone were to get killed delivering pizzas to a neighborhood known to be unsafe…we’d be talking about the greedy decision to send drivers there repeatedly.

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