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Brookland Park clean-up picking up on Saturday

Does trash in your neighborhood annoy you? Do something about it this weekend.

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Brookland Park monthly cleanup is this Saturday at 1 PM. This is the third one organized by RVA Clean Sweep. If you want to give a hand show up at the Northside Hardware Store (2925 North Ave) at 1 PM and give an hour or so of your time. RSVP Here.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Crime

Mayor Stoney names members of “Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety”

“There is a lot of work ahead of us, but this group’s diversity of expertise and lived experiences is a key asset on our path forward,” said the mayor. “I am thrilled to have this team help our city heal.”

RVAHub Staff

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Today Mayor Levar Stoney announced the members of the Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety and outlined his primary requests of the diverse group of professionals. The majority of task force members stood with the mayor for the announcement.

“There is a lot of work ahead of us, but this group’s diversity of expertise and lived experiences is a key asset on our path forward,” said the mayor. “I am thrilled to have this team help our city heal.”

The members of the task force bring an array of perspectives from activist, legal, academic, law enforcement, emergency services, artistic, healthcare, and other fields. At the close of a 45-day period, the task force will bring the mayor a set of actionable steps forward to build a safer city for all.

“After additional conversations and review of actions taken in other cities, I do not believe we can wait to begin acting on reform recommendations,” said Mayor Stoney. “I have asked this task force to report back with initial recommendations within 45 days of their first meeting.”

The mayor established three foundational requests of the task force: reviewing the police department’s use of force policies, exploring an approach to public safety that uses a human services lens, and prioritizing community healing and engagement.

“We need a new process for noncriminal and nonviolent calls for service, and that will be a top priority for this task force,” noted the mayor. “We must center compassion instead of consequences.”

Regarding community healing and engagement, the mayor said that the task force will allow the city to explore methods of engagement that will enable meaningful change, using his support for the Virginia Black Legislative Caucus’ legislative package as an example.

“Last month I expressed my support for the VBLC’s package for the summer session,” said Mayor Stoney. “This task force can determine where the city can explore complementary legislation and where we need to focus community advocacy to make statewide change a reality.”

Members of the Task Force

Carol Adams, Richmond Police Department
Ram Bhagat,
 Manager of School Culture and Climate Strategy for RPS

Glenwood Burley, retired RPD officer

Keisha Cummings, community engagement specialist, founder of 2LOVE LLC, member of the Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project and the Richmond Peace Team

Torey Edmonds, Community Outreach Coordinator at VCU Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development

Professor Daryl Fraser, VCU School of Social Work professor and licensed clinical social worker

Triston Harris, Black Lives Matters organizer and organizer of the 5,000 Man March Against Racism

Birdie Hairston Jamison, former district court judge for the 13th Judicial District in Virginia

Councilman Mike Jones

Shanel Lewis, Youth Violence Prevention Specialist at the Richmond City Health District

Brandon Lovee, Richmond artist and advocate, member of the Richmond Peace Team

Colette McEachin, Richmond Commonwealth Attorney

Reverend Dontae McCutchen, Love Cathedral Community Church

Dr. Lisa Moon, Associate Provost at VCU and former Director of the Center for the Study of the Urban Child

Sergeant Brad Nixon, RPD

Tracy Paner, Public Defender for the City of Richmond

Bill Pantele, Richmond attorney and former City Council Member

Professor William Pelfrey, VCU professor with expertise in emergency preparedness and policing

Councilwoman Ellen Robertson

Rodney Robinson, National Teacher of the Year and teacher at the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center

Patrice Shelton, Community Health Worker in Hillside Court and director of the Hillside Court Partnership

Lashawnda Singleton, President of the Richmond Association of Black Social Workers

Sheba Williams, Executive Director of NoLef Turns

Courtney Winston, Richmond trial attorney

The Mayor’s Office is specifically working with the Office of Community Wealth Building’s Community Ambassadors to identify additional community members, including youth, to be part of the task force’s important work and to assist with community engagement.

The task force is committed to a transparent process and will make meeting minutes available to the public.

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Judge Orders Halt to Confederate Statue Removal

It will be at least 60 days before any more statues, with one exception, come down.

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The great Confederate Statue Removal of 2020 looks to be on hold for now.

Yesterday Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley B. Cavedo granted an anonymous plaintiff’s request for a temporary injunction on the removal of any more statues. Mayor Levar Stoney had been operating under “emergency powers” and in what he states is for the safety of citizens.

The Judge disagreed and barred his administration from taking any more Confederate statues down for 60 days. The move comes more than a little late. The only major monument that remains is A.P. Hill on Northside. The issue with A.P. Hill is more complicated due to Hill’s remains being interred at that location.

City Council will host a public hearing on August 3rd for residents to voice their opinion on the ultimate fate of the Confederate symbols.

RTD has more details on the situation above and one more statue that will still come down.

One more statue will come down temporarily: the Arthur Ashe monument.

Stoney’s lawyers shared the plans during the hearing. Ashe’s relatives made the request, fearing the lone monument to a Black man on the famous street would be damaged in an act of retaliation for the Confederate statues coming down.

“Ashe family members made the request during the recent period of civil unrest,” said Jim Nolan, a Stoney spokesman. “The matter is still under consideration and we continue to have discussions with the family regarding their wishes.”

The racist undertones of statues being removed are being directly felt by Mayor Stoney and he shared the following yesterday on Twitter.

The RTD article linked to above also mentions that the police have received what they consider credible threats against Mayor Stoney and have recommended that in some situations he uses a security detail.

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Government

United Way offering free virtual tax preparation service ahead of July 15th federal tax filing deadline

Virginia households earning under $66,000 are eligible for United Way’s free virtual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

RVAHub Staff

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With the federal tax-filing deadline extended to July 15, and Virginians receiving an extension for state returns, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg is offering free virtual tax preparation services to households with incomes below $66,000.

Traditionally, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is held at 16 tax sites across the region, but as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit has shifted its focus to assisting taxpayers virtually until the tax sites can safely be reopened.

United Way partnered with Code for America to bring GetYourRefund to the region, allowing its local team of IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers to virtually assist taxpayers with completing and electronically filing both federal and state returns. To utilize the program, participants need just a smartphone with a camera or a computer with access to a scanner.

The program also encourages people to think about ways to save, implement financial best practices, and make plans for achieving financial independence. And for those with low to moderate-income, the service helps eligible taxpayers take advantage of potential tax savings through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

“For many around the region, the last few months have been difficult to navigate, but we’re pleased to be able to ease some of the anxiety and stress that those who haven’t filed yet might be feeling,” said James Taylor, president & CEO of United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. “We knew a shift to virtual preparation was important because this service has made a tangible difference for local families over the past 10 years, particularly for those who have taken advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit.”

In 2019, local United Way volunteers helped secure more than $3 million in tax refunds for 3,667 households in our area. Families who took advantage of the service received a total of $838,300 in EITC funds from the IRS. The average household income for customers was $22,900.

Find more information here.

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