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Opinion: Why a NAACP branch asked Justice to investigate Arlington County

The Washington Post 4/29/22
The NAACP Arlington Branch filed a formal request in March for the Justice Department to open a civil rights investigation into the Arlington County detention facility. The NAACP did not take this action lightly, and it came after a long, sad and disturbing parade of deaths in our county’s jail under the watch of the same sheriff.

In seven years, seven men of color have tragically died while in the custody of Arlington County — and the death rate is accelerating. Seven men of color. Men who should have had decades left to live. Men with loved ones, families, friends, children and grandchildren. Most or all were awaiting trial (many pleaded not guilty), and all lost their life under suspicious circumstances. The latest death occurred on Feb. 1. A Black man experiencing homelessness was arrested in early January for trespassing and appears to have died because of poor medical care in the jail. He was at least the fourth Black man with housing insecurity to die in custody. Despite the NAACP’s diligent and persistent efforts, Arlington officials remain tight-lipped and passive in the wake of these preventable deaths.

Video

Arlington NAACP Requests A Department Of Justice Investigation Into The County’s Jail

DCist, March 16, 2022
The Arlington branch of the NAACP is calling for a federal investigation into the county’s jail, where seven men of color have died in custody in seven years. In a letter to the head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division, the organization also alleged evidence of “biased policing and unconstitutional practices by law enforcement and personnel” in the jail. “The most precious civil right – the right to life – should never be extinguished simply because the Sheriff in a local jail holds someone. These seven men were among the most vulnerable in our community,” the letter reads. “Their deaths have devastated their families and the people of Arlington County and lay bare a pattern of deprivation of fundamental civil rights that mandates investigation and action.”

Additional News Coverage
NAACP asks for civil rights investigation of Arlington County jail, WTOP

Wrongful Death Lawsuit - Justice 4 Darryl

The family of Darryl Becton is suing the Arlington County Sheriff and Corizon Health (the former jail health provider) for negligence, gross negligence, willful and wanton negligence, and violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives people detained before trial the right to medical treatment. Mr. Becton died in custody at the Arlington County Detention Center on Oct. 1, 2020.

Justice 4 Darryl March 11, 2022 Press Conference Videos
Q&A with Attorney Mark Krudys
Opening Remarks & Summary of Lawsuit
NAACP Arlington Branch President JD Spain Sr Opening Remarks

News Coverage
Arlington jail personnel, health-care provider are sued over death Washington Post
Family of deceased inmate sues Arlington sheriff, jail healthcare provider ARLnow
Family Of Man Who Died At Arlington Jail Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit dcist
Arlington Co. jail, sheriff, medical staff sued for $10 million following death of inmate ABC 7 WJLA


Arlington Officials React to Governor's Veto of Police Reform Measure

Man Dies In Arlington County Jail, Marking Seventh Death In Seven Years

A 41-year-old man died in the Arlington County Detention Center on Tuesday after he was “found unresponsive in his cell” at the jail’s medical unit, according to the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office. The man, Paul Thompson, is the seventh person to die at the jail in the last seven years, and advocates are once again sounding the alarm about the disturbing pattern, which has mostly affected Black men in their 40s and 50s. “This is serious,” said Julius Spain, president of the Arlington NAACP chapter, in an interview with DCist/WAMU. “What we at the NAACP want our community and citizens to know and understand is that … showing up at our detention facility should not be a death sentence.”

Man dies while held on trespassing charge in Arlington

In a statement released late Tuesday, the Arlington County branch of the NAACP expressed dismay over the death and called for the Justice Department to investigate arrest and incarceration patterns in Arlington County. Medical conditions should not be “death sentences” for those held in Arlington on minor charges, the statement said.

NAACP urges Arlington Dems to end its School Board caucus process

In Virginia, all School Board races are nonpartisan, meaning parties like Arlington Dems can only endorse candidates, not nominate them as in a primary. But as part of the endorsement caucus, typically held in May, candidates agree not to run in the general election, making the end result similar to a primary. Or, as the NAACP puts it, the caucus is a “shadow election overriding the democratic and regulated process.” It argues that, months before the general election, the process influences who runs, how much they spend and how they campaign, who wins and whose votes matter.
Additional Stories
School Board member reverses course, speaks out against Democratic caucus process 2/3/22

Local NAACP, a church, local activists honored for human rights work

Arlington’s Human Rights Commission is honoring four organizations and two individuals for their contributions to diversity and human rights over the past year. Recipients include a seven-decade-old church in Arlington Ridge, the Arlington Branch of the NAACP and a community activist in the Halls Hill neighborhood.

James B. Hunter Human Rights Award

NAACP Arlington Branch is honored to join the ranks of esteemed James B. Hunter Award winners. Congratulations to the other 2021 awardees including active NAACP Arlington Branch member Wilma Jones Killgo, Advent Lutheran Church, Arlington Thrive, Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR), and Les Garrison.

ABC Nightline

Arlington Branch NAACP President and NOVA Black Leaders Interview with ABC Nightline, 10/31/2021 Interview with Mr. Kenneth Morton of ABC on GOTV efforts for either the Democrat or Republican candidates in the 2021 election. Perspective of Black Leaders in Northern, Virginia Interview Begins at 7 Minutes, 30 Seconds

Watch complete segment ABC Online

Upton Hill Park Stewards bestows accolades

Gabrielle Cantor, Arlington Branch NAACP Chair of the Environment and Climate Justice Committee, was recognized with an award from NOVA Parks (the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority)

2021 Freedom Fund Virtual Banquet

Coverage in ARL Now

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