On August 12, 2017, our community experienced an unprecedented tragedy. Every member of our community has been affected by that day and it will take us time to heal.
In the interest of keeping our community informed, the City of Charlottesville has established a central online hub where residents and those interested in the community can find answers to frequently asked questions, identify helpful resources, and updates related to the City’s recovery efforts. We will update this website in an ongoing manner with information for the public as it becomes available.
We recognize and appreciate the continued outpouring of support for our community.
- What happened?
There were a series of protests during the summer of 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. While this is an ongoing investigation, what we know is that the events led to death of 32 year-old Heather Heyer in an intentional vehicle crash and the deaths of Virginia State Trooper, H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, who perished when the helicopter they were piloting crashed in nearby Albemarle County. Additionally, dozens of others were injured on that day as a result of the vehicular attack and fights throughout our downtown area.
- When will the statue of General Lee be removed?
Following a series of City Council actions taken earlier this year, the statue of Robert E. Lee that sits in Emancipation (formerly Lee) Park property was to be removed. The removal was challenged in state court and an injunction was issued until the lawsuit is resolved. Council has recently indicated that they also wish to remove the statue of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson that sits in Justice (formerly Jackson) Park.
- What will happen to the statues in the meantime?
The City is awaiting the decision of the court. The City of Charlottesville is continuing to evaluate and advance the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces, including those related to new or additional monuments. Both statues are currently covered from public view.
- Why were guns permitted?
The city follows Virginia’s statutes on open carry (Sections 18.2-279 to 18.2-311.2). Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, meaning that there must be enabling legislation at the state level for localities to impose more stringent restrictions than state law allows. There is no such enabling legislation regarding firearms in Virginia.
- Who was responsible?
The people who brought violence to what should have been a peaceful demonstration. The active investigation will continue to pursue those who broke the law.
- Who made decisions leading up to the event?
Like any city preparing for this type of event, many parties were involved in trying to determine how best to balance the right of peaceful protest while at the same time protecting residents from what was anticipated to be a controversial and emotional event.
- Who is accountable for decisions that were made?
The City of Charlottesville follows a Council/Manager form of government (see below), and many parties were involved with the development of the response to the Unite the Right Rally. Ultimately it is up to the City Manager to ensure accountability. The City Manager works directly for the City Council. The City has retained former US Attorney for the Western District of the United States Timothy Heaphy to conduct an independent review of the City’s handling of and response to the events on August 12.
- What is a Council-Manager form of government?
It is a prevalent system of local government in the Commonwealth of Virginia that combines strong political leadership of elected officials in the form of a council or other governing body, with the strong managerial experience of an appointed local government manager. For more information, visit the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) website at www.icma.org.
- What additional activities are being done?
The City will continue to act in the interest of restoring and healing this community. The Department of Justice Community Relations Service is working with community leaders on developing strategies and assisting recovery . The Office of Human Rights’ Dialogue on Race initiative will continue bringing disparate groups of our community together to have discussions, brainstorm ideas and recommend actions for City to address racial justice and equality. Many community groups are doing wonderful work to aid our neighbors. City staff is working on creating a number of formal and informal opportunities for community engagement and relationship building. Dates for these and other events aimed at the recovery of our community will be posted as they become available.