Good morning, RVA! It's 67 °F, and today looks like a stunner. Expect highs in the mid 80s and tons of sunshine. Enjoy!
This morning, state legislators will head back to work for a special session on gun violence. What will they do? Will they do anything? Will they pass a single thing? I have no idea, but today might be a day to set up the General Assembly livestream in the background and follow along. To kick things off, Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security and Secretary of Health and Human Resources have co-authored a column in the Roanoke Times to head off Republicans’ constant refrain that we need fewer gun laws and more mental illness laws. The Secretaries note that improvements in mental health legislation are important but “While mental illness is a serious issue in our communities, it is not causally linked to gun violence. In fact, people with mental illness are much more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.” They also point out that the report produced following the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech (PDF) made legislative recommendations—including background checks—which have not yet been passed by the General Assembly. Locally, here’s a short video of Mayor Levar Stoney telling folks what he thinks of the NRA and the Virginia Citizens Defense League. And over in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Graham Moomaw and Patrick Wilson say that Republican Senator Tommy Norment has submitted legislation banning guns in “any building owned or used by a locality for governmental purposes in the Commonwealth.” You can read the full legislation here. You should also know that Norment most likely has no intention of supporting his own bill. He’s got a history of playing childish games with legislation, wasting his constituents’ and Virginians’ time for his own political gain. It’s irritating, transparent, and cowardly—especially when it comes to important issues like minimum wage, climate change, and gun violence. Anyway, since this is a special session, the number and scope of bills legislators have submitted is relatively small, and one could look through them all in a single morning!
Superintendent Kamras’s weekly email continues to exist—even in the depths of summer vacation! This week he reminds us of all the different ways to get involved with RPS Shines 2019. Also, and this late notice is totally my fault, Kamras highlights the Richmond Peace Education Center’s rally before the opening of today’s gun violence special session. If you can, join other folks who support passing laws to help prevent gun violence at 9:00 AM at the Capitol Bell Tower.
I’ve been waiting for someone to tie together and work through all of the terrible things happening in Hanover County recently—including a small rally of the actual KKK. Samantha Willis, a Black Hanover native, does exactly that in a Virginia Mercury piece titled This is Hanover (but it doesn’t have to be). Read the whole thing, but here’s a small excerpt: “In Hanover, we can’t change our past. We can, however, change our present and build a more inclusive, progressive, equitable future. It starts with being honest with ourselves; we cannot reconcile racism if we don’t recognize its prevalence and power here, and ignoring it will not make it go away.”
Related, you’ve probably seen the massive Confederate flag right off I-64 that’s visible when you’re headed east. Tyler Hammel at the Daily Progress has a super interesting update on how Louisa County might go about getting rid of it: Zoning! Apparently current zoning code only allows for 60-foot flag poles, and the Flaggers’ roadside display of White supremacy is twice too tall. Whether preventing dense and affordable housing or enormous displays of racism, zoning will always getcha.
Mike Platania at Richmond BizSense has a story about Stony Point Fashion Park expanding, which is the exact opposite of what I thought would be happening to a transit-landlocked suburban mall.
I did not know about this until it was TOO LATE, but yesterday Seibert’s auctioned off all of the Bird scooters that the City impounded this past spring. They had “39 separate lots of scooters ranging from lots of 100 to one individual scooter.” A truly golden opportunity to own a piece of RICHMOND HISTORY, and I missed it! You have got to look at this picture of hundreds of impounded scooters. It’s incredible.
This morning's longread
This Adam Serwer piece about what’s happening on our southern border is excellent, and you must read it.
This is, perhaps, the most daunting element of this entire conversation. If these facilities even vaguely resemble concentration camps, then American society has failed in ways many Americans do not want to contemplate. That resemblance would cast the Republican Party and its president as the perpetrators of an act of historic villainy. The Democratic Party leadership does not want the responsibility of leveling this charge and is incapable of bearing it, and most Republicans seem convinced that the omelet is worth a few cracked shells. The conditions at these facilities may not result from acts of deliberate malice, but as with Andersonville, the administration’s unwavering pursuit of its ideological goal—making life so unbearable for migrants that they turn back—has made these conditions inevitable.
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