Things Getting Nasty in Norfolk

In Norfolk, where it’s apparently hazardous to carry while black, things are starting to get nastier:

The 24-year-old Hampton resident said police told him to leave because he had a gun. Moore said he refused because the law allows him to display a weapon in public places. He said he was handcuffed, charged and led out of the building.

Norfolk police spokesman Officer Chris Amos confirmed that a summons was issued but declined to comment further.

Waterside receives city funding but is officially owned by a private entity, Waterside Associates, whose partners include the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, said NRHA assistant executive director John Kownack. Its policy prohibits weapons, yet weapons are not included on a list of prohibitions posted at Waterside’s entrances, he added.

I’m going to guess they are charging him with criminal tresspass.  I think most malls tend to be posted in the fine print.  It’s always good advice that unless you’re absolutly positively sure you’re in a public place, not a public accomodation, but a place owned by the public, or a public right-of-way, to comply with an order to leave if you’re asked.

But the Norfolk Police are pretty clearly out to make sure that no one in their city can exercise their right unharassed.  They’ve already settled once, no doubt other lawsuits will, and should be forthcoming.

But look at the difference in activism in Virginia vs. some of the things I’ve seen here.  You have people who were going about their business, not looking for trouble.  Trouble found them.  It will happen.  Now you have a pretty clear example of the police targeting young black men carrying guns lawfully.  The racial component will help with public sympathy, because while people might not understand why someone would carry a gun, most of the public believes racial discrimination is wrong.  And you’ll notice Phil Van Cleave playing that angle:

“I don’t see a conspiracy here – I see more ineptness,” he said. “And there may well be prejudice too.”

Moore is black. Van Cleave and most of the others are white.

Moore said a friend who was with him at Waterside also was carrying a gun and also had challenged police when asked to leave. He said his friend, who is white, was not charged.

That’s going to raise some questions in the public’s mind.  VCDL is doing alright here, if you ask me.

6 thoughts on “Things Getting Nasty in Norfolk”

  1. I’m not familiar with Virgina’s laws, but in PA – a sign carries no weight.

  2. Hit the submit button too soon – also, wouldn’t the owner or someone acting on the owner’s behalf need to contact the police for Mr. Moore to be charged with trespass? Someone needs to ask a trespasser to leave before they are actually trespassing.

  3. I’m not sure how trespass works in Virginia law. In Pennsylvania’s criminal trespass statute, you are guilty of being a defiant trespasser if it’s communicated to you via “posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders” I don’t know what Virginia says about signage. In Pennsylvania, small print isn’t reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders.

  4. Waterside Mall in Norfolk is actually publicly funded. We have two malls here: MacArthur Center (privately owned) and Waterside (public/private partnership). Legally, in Virginia at least, you can’t be made to leave Waterside simply for carrying any more than you can be made to leave city hall or the public buses for carrying.

    In other words, the city is up sh** creek here, especially since they had a black man and a white man, side by side, and both armed, and only arrested the black man. Dan’s other incidents may have left open the possibility that it was driven in part by his skin color. This one removes all doubt.

    I also hope the person who was told to stop filming “or else” makes sure to sue the city as well. As it is, I plan to encourage Dan to use the money he gets from these suits to buy advertising time when Mayor Fraim runs for reelection. Something simple like “This ad was paid for by your tax money, because Mayor Fraim condones racism in the city government and local police”.

  5. IANAL, but it’s my understanding that in VA signage carries no legal weight.

    To be guilty of trespass, a person must be asked by the owner or manager of the private property to leave and he must fail to leave.

    On-duty police officers are not empowered to walk up to someone and tell him to leave private property. Off-duty officers working as security personnel may do this.

  6. The only security at Waterside is on duty police, since it’s publicly funded, as opposed to the neighboring private mall, which has actual private security.

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