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Featured news by and for the local community

 

Announcement :: Civil & Human Rights

March for Women's Lives this Sunday April 25th

Stand Up for Choice! March Forward! The Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, in coordination with the Richmond Pro-Choice Coalition, has organized 11 buses to travel from Richmond to DC to the March for Women’s Lives this Sunday April 25th, 2004.

There are a limited number of seats still available. To get on the bus and support women's rights, see the full article for details on how to purchase one of the last tickets left.
 
 

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News :: Peace & War

SENT BACK TO IRAQ: An Open Letter from Larry Syverson's Son, Bryce

The war in Iraq is making many of our nightmares come true. The Bush administration really does intend on ruling the world by force, bombing Muslims into submission and sacrificing the lives of an increasing number of US soldiers; 16 in the past three days. Iraqi society is increasingly embracing armed struggle against the colonial occupiers and dying violent deaths at record rates; 600 in Falluja this past week and over 10,000 innocent Iraqi civilians since March 2003. Over the past year, Richmond's own Larry Syverson has experienced a dread that is much more personal, closer to home, and it does not go away when he turns off the TV.

And it's just gotten much much worse...
 
 

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Announcement :: Children : Crime & Police

Stop the Violence!!

As the "powers that be" continue to ignore issues of poverty, racism, and violence in this city, a community of high school students and their supporters are speaking out against youth violence. Come join us!

Local high school-aged folks are refusing to be ignored any longer when it comes to an issue that affects them on a daily basis: violence in our neighborhoods. Enter the Richmond Youth Peace Project, or RYPP, a local coalition of high schoolers and their supporters who are working to provide education, dialogue, healing, and artistic expression for area youth as a means of protesting our city's unwillingness to deal with issues of poverty, racism and crime, and also as a way to provide alternatives to violence.
 
 

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Commentary :: Housing

There Goes The Neighborhood

VCU has been expanding into the Carver neighborhood for closing in on a decade. Although they've metaphorically been burning down the neighborhood for years, who would've thought they'd actually try to blow it up.

For close to a decade VCU has been aggressively expanding its academic campus on Broad Street between Belvidere and Lombardy Streets. The buildings which include the Siegel Center, the Fine Arts Building, VCU’s bookstore, two student dormitories and two parking decks dwarf the century-plus old storefronts they are interspersed with and cast a long shadow over the two century-old African-American Carver community north of Broad Street.

VCU’s encroachment into the neighborhood has been both embraced or scorned depending on whom you speak to. Long-term residents have seen a slow but consistent increase in the number of young, transient students into the neighborhood, which has fought mightily for its existence for the past 75 years. Beginning in the 1930’s with the early stages of white flight, Carver’s working-class black population has persevered through disinvestments, the loss of 400 homes to Interstate 95, slum clearance schemes and beginning in the mid-90’s, VCU’s presence in the community.
 
 

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Announcement :: Civil & Human Rights

Baltimore Group Asks for Richmond Help: Protest for Workers' Rights on Orioles Opening Day, Sun. April 4th

Day Laborers organize for Opening Day protest at the Orioles' Camden Yards stadium. Workers around Baltimore city are organizing to make the invisible visible, to make seen what most ignore. Labor pool workers do some of the dirtiest and hardest jobs in Baltimore and yet receive little in return. Camden Yards is no different. After each home game, workers enter the stadium and pick up all the trash left behind. And in the early morning when we finish the job we are compensated with sweatshop wages.
 
 

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Commentary :: [none]

The Success of Richmond’s Winchester Greens Community

“Suburbia Doesn’t Have To Be Emotionally, Culturally and Aesthetically Bankrupt; The Success of Richmond’s Winchester Greens Community? - When one envisions a modern American suburb frightful images of gated communities with guard shacks and winding, meandering roads spilling into cul-de-sacs comes to mind. The homes are all designed and suited to fit into a nice, neat homogenous package. They are grotesquely out of scale with the human habitat. They are cookie cutter homes with vast acreage of well-manicured lawns that are never walked upon or used in any recreational manner. The neighborhoods are incoherent, jumbled messes of fifty feet wide roadways that lead to nowhere without a sidewalk to be found. Once you do manage to maneuver through the rat maze that these spaghetti arteries can be, you spill out onto the thoroughfare via the only acceptable or safe mode of transportation, the automobile.

The thoroughfare has destroyed traditional Main Street America almost completely in the last half century. Once one could walk to the five and dime, pharmacy, bank, post office, to the grocery or corner market over the course of an hour or so and never leave a half-mile radius of their home. Kids could walk to school and extracurricular events and adults to their workplace and social gatherings. Perhaps on the weekends friends and families would utilize an efficient and pleasurable public transit system to get to further away destinations such as movie theatres, town squares, public parks or larger family gatherings. Now it is inconceivable that a suburbanite would choose to walk anywhere. The suburban cartoon landscape is designed only for healthy, wealthy adults. Kids, seniors and people with disabilities all pay dearly for our decadent, wasteful, Me First attitude. Is there any hope at reversing this destructive pattern of mindless sprawl and fear of any semblance of real community in our lifetime?

A movement of architects, town planners, urban studies enthusiasts and their allies came together starting in the late 1980’s under a general movement they called the “new urbanism? to try and begin to offer some humane, hands on approaches at reversing the most negative aspects of suburbia run amok. Some of their principles were things that humans practiced in the design of their habitat for the past ten thousand years, but have been nearly wiped from existence post WWII. Compact, walkable neighborhoods with clearly defined edges and a town square centerpiece for important civic buildings and amenities. Homes, shops, schools, workplaces and parks should coexist in neighborhoods with a mixture of incomes, family types, ethnicities and ages living amongst each other. Public transportation should connect neighborhoods, regions and states and be easily accessible to all.

With their blueprint in tow the new urbanists set out to create some of their first attempts at their town village, traditional neighborhood model. Early on these developments largely catered to the wealthy and the very wealthy. In the case of the new town of Seaside, Florida, the development wasn’t a town or even a real neighborhood at all; in fact it was resort town for migrating snowbirds that was abandoned large portions of the year. Still, however Seaside was a landmark, an icon that quickly spawned countless imitators and architecturally and geographically speaking was one-hundred times over what existed around it along the gulf shore of Florida.

Today, new urbanists have branched out to work on projects as varied as new developments, urban infill, town and even regional planning. They’re leaving their footprint in all corners of the country and abroad. They are in high demand for town or neighborhood charrettes where townspeople, civic leaders and planners come together to draft up visions for the long-term dreams of their communities. They have grown beyond the hang-ups of a Seaside and have constructed multi-income, multi-racial, varied age communities that people love and have pride in. And what do you know; a local non-profit, affordable housing group right here in Richmond has gotten in on the mix.
 
 

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News :: [none]

Jury Finds Melvin Not Guilty, Defenders Issue Statement

After three trials, close to two years and nearly two weeks of testimony in the murder trial of Richmond Police Detective David Melvin, this past Friday night the jury delivered their verdict after five plus hours -- not guilty -- in regards to Mr. Melvin's May 17, 2002 murder of Verlon Johnson in the southside of Richmond.

An excerpt from Greg Wells' account of the final day of the precedings:

"There is no history in the past sixty to seventy years of any police officers in the city of Richmond being convicted in the murder of any citizen, Verlon Johnson will not change that staggering statistic. There wasn't an empty seat in the courtroom throughout the day as Richmond's top brass, including current Chief Of Police Andre Parker and former Interim Chief Teresa Gooch looked on. In total over fifty family members and fifteen to twenty supporters came out during the duration of the trial. The Defenders for Freedom Justice and Equality, who coordinated the courtwatch, plan to issue an offical statement in the near future."

Excerpts from the statement issued by the Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality:

"We are deeply disappointed with the not-guilty verdict that has been announced in this trial. This verdict in no way corresponds either to the facts that came out during the trial or with the law as explained to the jury by Circuit Court Judge Margaret P. Spencer....

"This is a dangerous development for the people of Richmond, particularly for young Black men like Verlon Johnson. Detective Melvin had it in his mind that Mr. Johnson, standing on his own front porch, no shirt on, hands in the air, his wife and children in his house behind him, presented a threat. For that preconceived notion, Mr. Johnson died, his wife lost a husband, his five children lost a father, his parents lost a son and the community lost another young Black man."
 
 

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Announcement :: Civil & Human Rights : Labor & Class : Protest Activity

Lessons from Willliam & Mary's Living Wage Campaign

This coming Friday, February 27, former members and organizers of the William and Mary Living Wage Campaign, Jennifer Bickham-Mendez (William and Mary Department of Sociology) and James Spady (American Studies), will present a talk analyzing the organizing methods and campaign culture of the 2000-2001 William and Mary Living Wage Campaign. This talk will take place from 12 noon to 1pm in Morton Hall 314 at William and Mary. All are welcome. For more information contact James Spady at jospad(at)wm.edu.

An excerpt from "Most of Us Want to Get Paid for the Work that We Do": Lessons from the William and Mary Living Wage Campaign:

"On August 14, 2001 groups of tourists and school children as well as historic interpreters dressed in colonial costumes were distracted by a boisterous group of African-American women custodial staff and faculty and student supporters staging a rally to announce the formation of an independent labor union at William and Mary. The event was part of an eighteen-month living wage campaign organized and spear-headed by a coalition that crossed multiple boundaries of race, class, and status. The campaign had collected 2600 signatures on a petition, held mass rallies and candlelight vigils, and maintained a noisy picket line at Merchant’s Square.

Three weeks after this August rally, the college president announced raises and benefits improvements: A 22% wage increase for the lowest paid workers that brought every campus worker to at least $8.50/hour. The following winter campaign members voted to affiliate their independent union with the United Electrical Workers Union (UE)."
 
 

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News :: [none]

Third Trial Begins for Richmond Police Detective

RICHMOND, Va. - Looking attentive but impassive, Detective David D. Melvin watched yesterday as the prosecution and defense presented their opening arguments in his murder trial.

In their presentations to the jury, Richmond's Commonwealth Attorney David M. Hicks and defense attorney David P. Baugh outlined the arguments they each hope will bring them victory in the courtroom drama being played out at the Manchester Courthouse at 10th and Hull streets.

"Verlon Johnson's hands, as he lay in a pool of blood, were in a raised position," Mr. Hicks stated. The city's chief prosecutor argued that the shooting was not only unnecessary, but was the result of Detective Melvin's having ineptly and irresponsibly mismanaged the attempted arrest.
 
 

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Commentary :: Urban Development

The Carlyle Group loves Richmond, Virginia

At the Council meeting of Feb. 9, 2004 members of Richmond City Council unaminously voted to begin the process of handing over 30 acres of River Front property surrounding the old Fulton Gas Works to developers headed by the Carlyle Group.
 
 

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Announcement :: Crime & Police

Support Urged for Family of Police Shooting Victim

Supporters of the family of police shooting victim Verlon Johnson are urged to attend the upcoming trial of Richmond Police Detective David Melvin. Originally charged with involuntary manslaughter after fatally shooting Mr. Johnson in May 2002, Detective Melvin is now charged with second-degree murder. If convicted, he faces five to 40 years in prison. His conviction will also mean that members of the top leadership of the Richmond Police Department participated in an attempted cover-up of a homicide.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 17, in the Manchester Courthouse at 10th and Hull streets on South Side. The trial is expected to last at least a week. All those who support the Johnson family and their demand that the truth be revealed in this case are urged to attend.

Show that you are willing to stand by this family. Be at the Manchester Courthouse at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 17.
 
 

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Announcement :: Gender and Sexuality

Queer Sexuality in the New Millenium with Tristan Taormino

tristan

Writer, editor, and sex educator Tristan Taormino will lecture on "Queer Sex in the New Millenium," at Queer Paradise, Friday, February 13, 7:00 pm.

Richmond Queer Space Project is excited to be hosting Tristan Taormino, whose name you may recognize from Best of Lesbian Erotica, The Villiage Voice, or as the former editor of On Our Backs.

 
 

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