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Articles by Hawes Spencer

Groups Seek Study of Police Tactics After KKK Rally

Four legal rights groups including the Virginia ACLU are asking Governor Terry McAuliffe to investigate the military-style police tactics deployed for the recent KKK rally in Charlottesville.

A helicopter and over 100 police in riot gear were deployed amid the July 8 rally, and John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute is concerned.

"As long as you have those militaristic-looking police out there with shields, AK-47s, etc. it increases the tension."

In the wake of three pepper grenades and 23 arrests, his group and three others want McAuliffe to investigate.

NYC Rail Repairs Curtail the Amtrak Crescent

As summer travel heats up, some are already discovering that one of the passenger trains rolling through the Virginia Piedmont has gotten a service cutback due to repair work in New York City.

Fixing the tracks under Penn Station has created turmoil far from Gotham City, as three Northeast Regional trains have been halted. And Amtrak's Crescent service, which serves Lynchburg, Charlottesville, and Culpeper, will go no farther north than Washington.

Rail advocate Michael Testerman downplays the cuts. “Amtrak riders are used to these kinds of things.”

Tear Gas, Riot Police Deployed Against KKK Protesters

The Ku Klux Klan rallied Saturday in Charlottesville to protest the city's recent [April] decision to sell a Civil War statue, but over a thousand people turned out, some rattling cowbells and blowing horns.

For each Klan member, traveling from North Carolina, there were at least 20 counter-protesters.

"I am just extremely proud and happy with the turnout of our community to shout them down and to let them know that they are not welcome and they not wanted anywhere in Charlottesville," said Don Gathers.

Controversy Erupts Over KKK Pre-Rally Inquiries

In advance of a planned rally by the Ku Klux Klan, the Charlottesville Police Department has been visiting activists and asking questions, and some aren't happy with that.

Several activists complained that Police made unexpected visits to home and office.

Attorney Pam Starsia said, "They viewed them as an intimidation tactic intended to silence and chill leftist activists from exercising their First Amendment rights."

The City, however, says it's visiting activists from both the left and the right in the name of public safety.

As Search Progresses, One Name Stands Out

Earlier this week, a search committee met for secret deliberations; but as the University of Virginia seeks a new leader, a familar name is gaining traction--particularly after a published article by a former student.

Scott Douglas Gerber hopes the search will narrow to just one name: political pundit Larry Sabato.

"He's incredibly bright and works harder than anyone I know," said Gerber.

Back in the '70s, Sabato was Student Council president and a Rhodes Scholar, and became a popular teacher, author, adminstrator, and even a two-time Emmy winner.

Warmbier's Death Prompts Vigil in Charlottesville

In the college town he called home, the death of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, days after his 17-month detention in North Korea, is having an impact.

Mayor Michael Signer says the news hit hard, “It’s heartrending, and it’s as tragic and sad as it is infuriating.”

UVA Student Council President Sarah Kenny says the school is in pain, “People are in shock, they're incredibly dismayed, they're incredibly disheartened.”

Korean Prisoner Warmbier's Freedom Bittersweet For UVA

Students and faculty at the University of Virginia learned Tuesday that former student Otto Warmbier would be coming home after a year and a half in North Korean custody.

The news of Warmbier's release raced across Grounds along with news of his coma.

Fifth-year student Leo Murphy, "It's terrible, I feel bad for his family. But I also wonder what compelled him to go on a tour of North Korea; it doesn't sound safe to me."

The totalitarian regime sentenced Warmbier to 15 years hard labor over an allegation of swiping a propaganda poster.

Rolling Stone Quits 2nd Defamation Case with Settlement

Rolling Stone, the magazine that lost a high-profile defamation case last fall over a discredited article about campus rape, has settled another one.

The story built around Jackie, a former University of Virginia student with an unhealthy imagination, created havoc, particularly at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, which was accused of using gang rape as an initiation rite.

Legal analyst David Heilberg, “It was a salacious accusion.”

Enslaved Memorial Design Unveiled, Approved

Months after soliciting community input, the design of the memorial to the slaves who built the University of Virginia has been shown to the Board of Visitors, who approved it Friday.

From 1817 until the Civil War ended in 1865, slaves built buildings, cooked food, and cared for the University of Virginia. And now they're getting recognition.

"I think it's about time." That's 1989 graduate Malcolm Andrews. He likes both the design an expansive stone circle as well as the location, a grassy place near University Avenue and the Rotunda.

N.C. Chapter Of KKK Plans Charlottesville Rally

Less than a month after a white nationalist group held a torch rally in Charlottesville, a North Carolina chapter of the Ku Klux Klan reveals that it plans to rally next month.

City Councilor Bob Fenwick cast the deciding vote to move a Robert E. Lee statue, he's been the subject of death threats, and now fears a repeat of recent protests that resulted in numerous arrests.

Fenwick asked, “There is a faction on both left and right that want it to be rowdy and to be confrontational and to provoke. And where has that strategy gotten us?”

So what’s his strategy?

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