Michael Lee Pope is an award-winning journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and Northern Virginia Magazine. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. Pope is the author of four books.
Lawmakers to consider eliminating no-knock warrants, new hurdles for nighttime search warrants.
Lawmakers in Virginia are about to consider banning no-knock warrants and creating a new requirement that judges — not magistrates — sign off on search warrants executed at night.
Lawmakers to consider putting pretextual stops in the rearview mirror.
Do you have a parking pass dangling from your rearview mirror? What about rosary beads or a graduation tassel? Police officers can use that as a pretext to pull you over and ask to search your car.
Commonwealth’s Attorneys from Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax join forces to press for reform.
As lawmakers prepare to return to Richmond for a special session on criminal justice reform, this group of likeminded prosecutors known as the Progressive Prosecutors for Justice will be pushing for a package of criminal-justice reform bills that does not have the backing of the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys.
Lawmakers to slash the state budget and consider criminal-justice reforms.
The threadbare Franklin and Armfield office on Duke Street stands at the crossroads between racial injustice and economic crisis. It’s a ramshackle building now, but it was once the headquarters for the largest domestic slave trading firm in the United States, present at the creation of the systemic racism that plagues Virginia cops and courts. It’s also the city’s latest acquisition, and the state budget was to include $2.5 million to help transform it into the Freedom House Museum. But then the pandemic hit, and the governor hit the pause button on that line item as well as all the other spending priorities of the new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.
Restaurants, lawyers and consultants in Alexandria receive millions in forgivable loans.
Restaurants in Alexandria received the biggest chunk of federal cash from the Paycheck Protection Program, landing more than 200 forgivable loans and saving about 4,000 jobs, according to new data released from the Small Business Administration. Lawyers, consultants and home health care workers also scored big, landing hundreds of loans and saving thousands of jobs. Ultimately, businesses in Alexandria received more than 3,000 loans and preserved more than 35,000 jobs.
Since the recession, funding has increased for public safety but decreased for social services.
Since the recession, spending on public safety in Alexandria has increased year after year. According to documents from the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts, that category of government spending has increased 38 percent since 2010 as city leaders increased salaries for police officials and funded new positions at the city’s emergency communications center. But during that same time, spending on health and welfare programs has increased only 12 percent. Spending on social services has actually gone down since 2010.
Police launch formal inquiry into why Black people make up majority of arrests.
Black people are 23 percent of the population in Alexandria, and yet most arrests in the city are of African Americans. Most cases when police use force are against Black people. Most drug arrests are of Black people. And almost half of the inmates at the Alexandria jail are Black people.
Alexandria’s war on drugs hits black males hardest.
According to the Alexandria Police Department, 64 percent of people arrested in Alexandria for drug arrests last year were African American. Almost half of those arrests were Black males.
Whites make three times as much as Hispanic workers, twice as much as black workers.
White Alexandria is pulling in significantly more money than Hispanic workers and African Americans, according to numbers from the United States Census Bureau. A look at average income shows non-Hispanic whites make more than $85,000 a year. That’s more than three times the average income for Hispanic workers, $24,000, and more than twice the average income for black workers, $37,000.
African Americans are often targets of strong-arm tactics by Alexandria police.
Documents outlining use of force by the Alexandria Police Department show force is used against black males more than any other group. In the most recent report, which covers 2019, 54 percent of the instances of use of force was against African Americans. That’s significantly higher than the black population in Alexandria, which is 23 percent.