Today is Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally learned that slavery had been abolished in the Confederate states, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. As we celebrate Juneteenth today, let us imagine ourselves what it was like to be enslaved and reflect upon what it really means to be free. Juneteenth reminds us that knowledge itself is a key to freedom.
TONIGHT, we will be debating Virginia's proposed constitutional amendment on your November ballot this fall. Because I oppose gerrymandering, I oppose the Republicans' proposed constitutional amendment to allow it. This Amendment, if it passes, will give absolute (and unappealable) power to Virginia's Republicans to gerrymander the legislature -- specifically to those Republicans on the Virginia Supreme Court chosen for 12-year terms by the former Republican majority who had illegally racially gerrymandered the Virginia Legislature.
I've received more than 100 emails over the last couple of weeks on the need to address the twin scourges of systemic racism and police brutality. I wrote back at some length to everyone who wrote me on what we've seen, what we've done, and what we intend (with your help) to do to substantially reform the nature of policing and criminal justice in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
I decided to share the substance of that letter with the rest of you.
This morning, June 12, Northern Virginia – including Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax – begins Phase Two of "Forward Virginia," Governor Northam's plan for reopening. Most of Virginia entered into Phase Two on June 5th. Here are some of the big guidelines to know.
- Restaurants will be allowed to re-open for indoor dining at 50% capacity.
- Retail stores may operate at 50% capacity.
- Farmer’s markets may permit limited on-site shopping.
- Houses of worship can open at 50% capacity.
- Fitness centers can open indoor areas at 30% capacity.
- Pools can expand operations to indoor and outdoor exercise, diving and swim instruction.
- Social gatherings can have a maximum of 50 people, up from 10 people allowed under Phase One.
Thank you to the 126 of you who completed the survey. That's an impressive amount of feedback!
The vast majority of you expressed concern on all four primary categories of testing, vulnerable residents, frontline workers, and elections.
Last week, recognizing that people needed a forum to get answers to tough questions from local law enforcement leaders, I hosted a town hall with local law enforcement leaders from Arlington and Alexandria. "Panelists" included:
- Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown
- Arlington Police Chief Jay Farr
- Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter; and
- Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti
Our nation is reeling.
Here, yet again--this time in Minneapolis--a police officer killed an unarmed handcuffed black man, his knee on George Floyd's neck long after George uttered his fateful last words and lost consciousness.
(George was being arrested under suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill.)