Plans to protect Charlottesville from another possible attack by the Alt-Right have sparked controversy from people who think police are over-reacting. The issue boiled up during Monday night’s city council meeting.
Charlottesville’s police chief, RaShall Brackney, said she didn’t have enough officers to protect the downtown area and still ensure the safety of other places where people congregate. That was why, she said, swimming pools, recreation centers and the farmers’ market had to be shut down for the entire weekend. Her decision to close many downtown streets and the Market Street Parking Garage has upset local merchants who are still recovering from a loss of business following last year’s summer of hate.
“My planning is not geared around incomes and revenues," she told city council. "My planning is geared around the fact that Charlottesville was extremely vulnerable based on the planning last year, and I cannot allow that to happen again this year.”
But during the public comment period several residents, including Tanesha Hudson, expressed dismay.
“Here we are about to shut down a whole city and let these people feel like they’ve won," she said. "I can’t speak for everyone else, but they don’t scare me. They don’t scare me, because they’re not going to come to Tonsler Park. They’re not going to come where we are!”
Chief Brackney did not relent. She criticized police for failing to prevent violence last year and said officers would enforce the law this time around. That worried City Councilman Wes Bellamy who thought African-American residents might be arrested for shouting at white supremacists or cops. Brackney assured him that N-W-A -- slang for Negroes with Attitude -- would be tolerated.
“What I’ve said is, ‘Someone can have an NWA moment, and that’s okay. They’re protected by their constitutional rights,” she said.
Stunned for a moment, Councilman Wes Bellamy remarked, “I think that’s the first time I’ve heard a chief use that term.”
The term had to be explained to the city’s white fire chief who stood at Brackney’s side, utterly confused by all the fuss.