Posts tagged with "Virginia"

Jury in Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ rally trial finds leaders liable for more than $25 million

November 25, 2021

A federal jury in Virginia awarded victims of violence stemming from a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, more than $25 million on Tuesday, November 23, after finding prominent white-supremacist leaders and groups liable under state law for injuries suffered during a torchlight march and Unite the Right event, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The jury deadlocked on two federal conspiracy counts.

The events on August 11 and August 12, 2017, were attended by hundreds of members of white-nationalist, neo-Nazi and militia groups from around the nation. Throughout the weekend, violent clashes with counter-protesters left dozens injured and one woman dead, after a white-nationalist demonstrator drove his car into a crowd.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2017 by several people who were injured that weekend. The plaintiffs used a Reconstruction-Era law to attempt to hold liable the leaders and organizers who planned the violence and others who carried it out.

Among the individual and organizational defendants found liable were Jason Kessler, the primary organizer of the Unite the Right rally; Richard B. Spencer, considered a founder of the insurgent white-supremacist movement known as the alt-right; and James Fields Jr., who was sentenced to life in prison for killing a woman when he drove into a crowd of counter-protesters.

The jury also held responsible several other white-supremacist groups whose members promoted and participated in the rallies, including the National Socialist Movement, Vanguard America, and League of the South.

Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America, a nonprofit civil-rights organization funding the lawsuit, said the plaintiffs sought to recover enough money to bankrupt those at the center of the movement

“These judgments underscore the major financial, legal, and operational consequences for violent hate,” she said Tuesday.

The lawsuit sought compensatory damages between $7 million and $10 million for the four plaintiffs who were hit by the car and between $3 million and $5 million for the other plaintiffs for trauma they suffered, as well as unspecified punitive damages.

Throughout the monthlong trial, jurors heard testimony from at least two dozen witnesses, including many of the defendants.

The two counts that the jury deadlocked on used a Reconstruction Era law—the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871—which allows victims of racially-motivated violence to sue the people who conspired to attack them.

Jurors deliberated for nearly three days before returning the verdict Tuesday afternoon, holding all defendants responsible for conspiracy under Virginia state law.

The jury also found Fields liable for claims of assault or battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On those counts, jurors awarded the plaintiffs $13.5 million in damages, including $12 million in punitive damages.

Co-lead counsels for the plaintiffs, Roberta Kaplan and Karen Dunn, said, in a statement Tuesday, “The laws of this country will not tolerate the use of violence to deprive racial and religious minorities of the basic right we all share to live as free and equal citizens.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Prescription for profits: As sales dwindled during pandemic, some pharmacies also offered pet meds

October 26, 2020

When stay-at-home orders began to spread nationwide, Shantelle Brown, owner of Hope Pharmacy in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood in Virginia, saw a rush, she recently told Fortune magazine.

Regular customers stocked up on their medications as they prepared to wait out the coronavirus pandemic. By the beginning of April, though, business had dried up.

One of the greatest ironies of the pandemic is that fewer people are visiting health care professionals—and that has impacted many pharmacies across the country. An August study from the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that the total number of filled prescriptions, as of late April, was down compared with January and February, but there were some signs of recent rebounding.

That initial gap was especially hard on small independent drugstores, including Brown’s.

Initially, Hope Pharmacy shifted to making hand sanitizer. The business distributed it to first responders at no charge and sold it to customers. The company vastly expanded its delivery business, as well, Fortune notes.

But as elective procedures were canceled, and apprehension grew about visiting the emergency room in that community, Brown knew she had to look for new ways to increase revenue.

One of the most successful initiatives has been adding pets to the patient list.

Before opening her own pharmacy, Brown worked at Sam’s Club, which included pet meds among its offerings while she was there. As she met with a strategic planning group during the early days of the pandemic, the idea popped into her head.

Getting access to the meds wasn’t hard. Many pets take the same medicines humans do for things like blood pressure and heart conditions. The trick was letting people know they had an option other than buying directly from their vet.

Brown’s not much for social media. She says she prefers a more “old-fashioned” way of attracting business, so she and her husband made up signs that people could put in their yards and flyers that accompanied deliveries. Before long, business picked up.

Hope Pharmacy, which opened at the end of April 2018, currently serves “800-something” people in the community, but since it began selling pet meds, it has been adding an average of two new patients per day. And while those aren’t numbers that would ping the radar at CVS, they’re huge for a small independent pharmacy.

“We had a couple of people advise us that we should partner with a vet,” says Brown. “I tried, but…I didn’t realize at the time how much vets were making off of pet meds. Our prices are so much cheaper, and we’re able to save patients quite a bit of money.”

The goal with this, as with the carrying of pet meds or other products that aren’t traditional pharmacy staples, is the same, though: build a closer relationship with the patient-customer to earn his or her loyalty. In the event that another substantial wave of COVID hits the country—or some other pandemic forces people back into their homes—those customers will be more apt to return quickly.

“In the pharmacy business, it takes a while to build a clientele because people are used to going where they go,” says Brown. “Our hope and goal is not to just get the animal—we want the whole family.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Virginia State Dems and Black Caucus boycott Trump speech at Jamestown ceremony

July 31, 2019

In a speech interrupted by a Muslim lawmaker who heckled him—and boycotted by the Virginia State Democratic legislative caucus, as well as the Black Legislative Caucus—President Donald Trump commemorated the 400th anniversary of American democracy in Jamestown, Virginia, on July 30.

Indeed, as Trump delivered a text intended to celebrate America’s self-rule and to dispel his own image as a racist—following a week in which he had disparaged legislators and activists of color, including The Squad of four progressive female lawmakers in the House; Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), and the Reverend Al Sharpton—a lone protestor rose from the audience to take him to task.

Ibraheem Samirah, a Democrat serving the state’s 86th District in Virginia’s General Assembly—and a son of Palestinian refugees who was separated from his father in middle school when the senior Samirah was not allowed to return to the United States—stood and held up signs that read “deport hate” and “reunite my family.”

A third message said “go back to your corrupted home,” the Washington Times reported.

Although he was escorted out of the venue, Samirah said in a statement that he was confident his constituents would rather have him protest than “passively accept” Trump’s presence.

Other lawmakers had voiced their disapproval before the speech. The Black Legislative Caucus announced on July 29 that its members would not attend the celebration, saying that Trump’s participation is “antithetical to the principles” for which the group stands. Caucus members instead planned alternative commemorative events in Richmond.

“Surely there’s a better voice for such an occasion,” Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-74th District-Virginia)  –who heads the Black Caucus– wrote on Twitter.  

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney resigned from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation’s steering committee for the commemoration event, writing in his resignation letter that Trump “denigrates our democracy” and has no place at the event, the Times reported.

“We will not be attending any part of the commemorative session where Donald Trump is in attendance,” the Virginia House Democrats said on Twitter. “The current President does not represent the values that we would celebrate at the 400th anniversary of the oldest democratic body in the western world.

According to a report on the event by The New York Times, as he took questions for over ten minutes following his speech, President Donald Trump appeared not to know that a boycott was in place, saying he would be “shocked” if opponents of color were declining to attend the event.

“If that’s the case, they’re fighting against their people,” Trump said, repeating an unverified claim that his administration had been receiving calls nonstop praising his comments on Baltimore as a vermin- and rat-infested city. “The African-American people have been calling the White House. They have never been so happy about what a president has done.”

“I think I’m helping myself,” Trump said. “These people are living in hell in Baltimore.”

Research contact: @WashTimes

Amazon plans to split HQ2 in two East Coast locations

November 7, 2018

After conducting a yearlong search for a site for its second headquarters, Amazon has switched gears and is now finalizing plans to manage a total of 50,000 employees in two East Coast locations, The New York Times reported on November 5.

The e-commerce company is nearing a deal to move to the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens—a location just across the East River from Manhattan— according to two sources briefed on the discussions, the Times said.

In addition, Amazon is also close to sealing a deal to move to Crystal City, an urban neighborhood in the southeastern corner of Arlington County, Virginia, south of downtown Washington, D.C; one of the sources said.

Amazon already has more employees in those two areas than anywhere else outside of Seattle, its home base, and the Bay Area.

Amazon executives met two weeks ago with New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (D), said one of the people briefed on the process, adding that the state had offered potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies. Executives met separately with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), a person briefed on that discussion said.

“I am doing everything I can,” Cuomo told the press corps, including the Times, when asked on November 5 about the state’s efforts to lure the company. “We have a great incentive package,” he said.

“I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” Cuomo said. “Because it would be a great economic boost.”

According to the Times, the need to hire tens of thousands of high-tech workers has been the driving force behind the search, leading many to expect it to land in a major East Coast metropolitan area. Many experts have pointed to Crystal City as a front-runner, because of its strong public transit, educated work force and proximity to Washington.

JBG Smith, a developer who owns much of the land in Crystal City, declined to comment, as did Arlington County officials.

Amazon declined to comment on whether it had made any final decisions. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported Amazon’s decision to pick two new locations instead of one.

Amazon announced plans for a second headquarters in September 2017, saying that the company was growing faster than it could hire in its hometown Seattle. The company said it would invest more than $5 billion over almost two decades in a second headquarters, hiring as many as 50,000 full-time employees that would earn more than $100,000 a year on average.

HQ2 would be “full equal to our current campus in Seattle,” the company said. If Amazon goes ahead with two new sites, it is unclear whether the company would refer to both of the locations as headquarters or if they would amount to large satellite offices.

Research contact: @KYWeise