Across Virginia

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According to the latest numbers released this morning from the Virginia Department of Health there are 38 new probable or confirmed coronavirus cases being attributed to the Roanoke Valley. State health officials report 25 new cases in Roanoke City, 11 in Roanoke County, and 1 new case in Botetourt County and Salem. This comes after 54 new cases were reported yesterday in the Roanoke Valley.

According to the latest numbers released this morning from the Virginia Department of Health there are 2 new probable or confirmed coronavirus cases being attributed to the Roanoke Valley. State health officials report the 2 new cases are in Roanoke City bringing the overall case count to 739. The are no new cases in Roanoke County, Botetourt County or Salem.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — The city of Virginia Beach removed a 115-year-old Confederate monument from public grounds on Saturday, less than two days after the City Council voted unanimously to do so.

Workers took down the 27-foot (8.2-meter) tall monument on Saturday morning, media outlets reported. It was installed in 1905 and stood outside the old Princess Anne County courthouse, in the same place that slave auctions were once held.

The council voted unanimously Thursday night to begin the removal process. The council had listened to dozens of speakers and decided the monument is viewed by many as divisive and a painful reminder of the past.

The statue recently had been completely covered, with a locked gate around it following recent protests and vandalism at other Confederate monuments.

The monument will be stored for now. The city now must wait for any offers from historical groups or other entities that might want to take the monument.

RICHMOND, Va, (AP) — Two inmates who escaped from a Virginia juvenile prison two weeks ago have been captured in Michigan, federal authorities said.

A fugitive task force in Grand Rapids, Michigan, led by U.S. marshals arrested Rashad E. Williams and Jabar Ali Taylor late Saturday afternoon at a Battle Creek hotel without incident, according to a news release from the U.S. Marshals Service.

The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice said Taylor, 20, and Williams, 18, escaped from Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center on July 13 through a hole that was cut in the perimeter fence.

The pair used a cord to choke a security staff member unconscious officials said, taking the person’s keys and fleeing. A getaway vehicle sat outside the detention center, according to marshals. A center worker was later charged with helping the inmates escape.

Taylor, from Spotsylvania County, had been convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and aggravated malicious assault. Williams, from Washington D.C., was convicted of malicious wounding and robbery.

The marshals pursued leads in several states, and information showed the escapees had initially fled to Pennsylvania, the news release said. The release didn’t describe why the inmates went to Michigan, where they were to be held in the Calhoun County Jail.

Several Michigan law enforcement agencies and the FBI helped with the capture.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A city dump truck was set on fire as protesters faced off with police in Virginia’s capital during a demonstration in support of protesters on the other side of the country in Portland, Oregon.

Virginia State Police and Richmond police worked to clear the crowd of a several hundred demonstrators late Saturday. City police declared an “unlawful assembly” around 11 p.m., and what appeared to be tear gas was deployed to disperse the group.

Protesters had been planning for days the demonstration that was called “Richmond Stands with Portland,” news outlets reported, in an apparent reaction to ongoing tensions between protesters and U.S. agents at the federal courthouse in Oregon’s largest city.

Weeks of nationwide unrest have struck several U.S. cities since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

Saturday’s protest in Richmond started at a park and then demonstrators marched to police headquarters, according to news outlets.

Police tweeted a photo of rocks, batteries and other items the department said were thrown at its officers during the protest. A video also showed an officer extinguishing a mattress on fire in the middle of a road.

Glass windows were also shattered at a Chipotle restaurant and a Virginia Commonwealth University dorm, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia has removed from its iconic state capitol the busts and a statue honoring Confederate generals and officials. That includes a bronze statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee positioned in the same spot where he stood to assume command of the state’s armed forces in the Civil War nearly 160 years ago.

They are the latest Confederate symbols to be removed or retired in the weeks since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked a nationwide protest movement.

Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, a Democrat, quietly ordered the Lee statue and busts of generals J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and others removed from the historic Old House Chamber. A moving crew worked through the night Thursday — carefully removing the monuments and their plaques and loading them into a truck and taking them to an undisclosed location.

“Virginia has a story to tell that extends far beyond glorifying the Confederacy and its participants,” Filler-Corn said in a statement. “Now is the time to provide context to our Capitol to truly tell the commonwealth’s whole history.”

Designed by Thomas Jefferson, the Virginia State Capitol is the first state capitol to open after the American Revolution and was used as the Confederacy’s Capitol during much of the Civil War.

Filler-Corn’s move to remove the Confederate generals comes a few weeks after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the removal of a different Lee monument — a 21-foot (6-meter) bronze equestrian sculpture on Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue.

A lawsuit has delayed that statue’s removal, but other Confederate monuments on the street — once one of the most prominent collection of tributes to the Confederacy in the nation — have already come down. And earlier this week, the U.S. House approved a bill to remove statues of Gen. Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders from the U.S. Capitol. The bill’s prospects in the Senate are uncertain.

In Virginia, the Old House Chamber was where lawmakers first met when the Capitol opened in 1788 and was used as the House’s meeting place for more than 100 years before the Capitol building was expanded. It is not currently used for official purposes when the legislature meets.

Virginia delegates voted in the chamber to secede from the Union in April 1861. A few days later, Lee entered the room to take formal command of the state’s military.

“Trusting in almighty God, an approving conscience, and the aid of my fellow citizens, I devote myself to the service of my native state, in whose behalf alone will I ever again draw my sword,” Lee said, according to an inscription on the statue.

Seven years later, after the South lost the war, it was the same room where a new constitutional convention met that included Black delegates for the first time.

Like many Confederate monuments, most of those recently removed from Virginia’s Capitol were erected decades after the Civil War. They were commissioned and built during the Jim Crow era, when states imposed new segregation laws, and during the “Lost Cause” movement, when historians and others tried to depict the South’s rebellion as a fight to defend states’ rights, not slavery.

The Lee statue was approved in 1928 with the help of then-Gov. Harry Byrd, who would later go on to lead the state’s Massive Resistance to racially integrated schools. It’s $25,000 price tag (about $370,000 currently) was paid for by the state, donations and an in-kind donation from the sculptor.

Busts of Davis and Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, were donated to Virginia in the 1950s by Mississippi and Georgia.

Filler-Corn also announced she’s appointed Del. Delores McQuinn to lead a new advisory group to advise the speaker on “possible future actions” of other historical artifacts controlled by the House.

Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Del. Lamont Bagby hailed the monuments’ removal, saying “visitors from around the world have been greeted by these imposing symbols of treason and white supremacy for far too long.”

Republican House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert noted the Lee statue was a “historical marker” and mocked Filler-Corn’s commitment to telling the state’s history.

“Another historical reality is that the Capitol building itself served as the Confederate Capitol, a fact that should no doubt force the Speaker’s new Advisory Group to recommend that it be razed to the ground,” Gilbert said in a statement.

The Confederate monuments are not the only tributes to losing causes in and around the Capitol, a building built with slave labor where almost every portrait hanging on the walls is of a white man.

A large statue of Byrd, the arch segregationist, sits on Capitol Square and two portraits hang prominently in the Capitol.

In the House chamber, directly behind where House speakers preside, is a plaque honoring Nathaniel Bacon. He was wealthy colonist who led a failed rebellion in the 1670s whose aims including the unfettered killing of Indians and the seizing of their lands.

 

The State Fair of Virginia has been cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Thursday that the fair’s organizers were unable to find a way to pull it off safely. Pam Wiley, director of communications for the Virginia Farm Bureau, said staff spent months trying to figure out ways to make the fair work within state health guidelines. Wiley said the last time the fair was cancelled was during World War II. Before that it was during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918. More than 245,000 people attended the fair last year.

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) – Liberty University has filed a lawsuit against The New York Times and one of its reporters, saying the newspaper intentionally misrepresented the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Virginia college campus. The complaint filed Wednesday said the Times, reporter Elizabeth Williamson and a photographer said the school suffered a COVID-19 outbreak when it reopened after spring break and that nearly a dozen students were sick with the virus. The school said the facts were just the opposite because they were told there were no known cases of COVID-19 at Liberty. A spokeswoman for the Times didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Governor Northam says his administration is leaving it up to local school boards to decide how many classes are taught in person or on line. The governor says unlike his statewide COVID-related regulations, public education is not an area where one size fits all, but one guideline in particular remains constant.  More from WFIR’s Evan Jones:

07-15 Northam-Education Wrap-WEB

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The Port of Virginia plans to replace two diesel-powered, ship-to-shore cranes and several gas-powered container tractors with electric versions using $14 million it will receive from the state.

The money is part of the $93.6 million the state received from a federal settlement with Volkswagen that resolved allegations that the automaker violated the Clean Air Act by equipping thousands of diesel motor vehicles with software designed to cheat on federal emissions test. The Virginian-Pilot reported Friday that the port will use $10 million of the state’s gift and $10.1 million of its own money to cover the costs of the cranes.

“The port is trying to be holistic in its approach,” said John Reinhart, the port’s CEO and executive director, after highlighting other steps the port has taken to reduce emissions, including adding 26 new truck lanes to reduce idling.

The new cranes will be placed at the Norfolk International Terminals. Reinhart said they will reduce by 75,000 gallons the amount of diesel fuel used every year.

The remaining $4 million from the state will go toward five all-electric tractors and charging stations for the Richmond Marine Terminal.

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