Charlottesville city government is once again playing games with protected local monuments.
The Charlottesville Police Department apparently has taken a laissez-faire approach to the vandalism “investigation,” as evidenced by their most recent media release on the subject:
On October 14, 2019, at approximately 0806 hours, officers responded to Court Square Park for a report of vandalism to the Jackson Statue. Upon arrival, officers discovered physical damage and paper signs covering the posted “No Trespassing” signs. Hours later, officers responded to the Lee Statue in Market Street Park for a similar vandalism report. Both cases are currently under investigation by CPD’s Investigations Bureau.
Glaringly absent from this communication:
- Offers of reward
- Admonitions against further damage
- Requests for public assistance
- Contact or tip-line to report suspects to authorities
Adding insult to injury, Charlottesville City Manager, Dr. Tarron Richardson (and his predecessor) have refused to install cameras to monitor the sites or allow a third party (The Monument Fund) to do so.
Most recently, the Schilling Show inquired as to whether the City carries insurance that would cover accumulated damages to Lee and Jackson.
The convoluted email replies from City Spokesperson, Brian Wheeler, speak volumes:
On October 16, 2019 at 09:30:44 PM, Schilling Show wrote:
Can you please tell me if the City carries any insurance policy that might cover the cost of damages to the monuments of Lee and Jackson?
Five days later, Wheeler responded cryptically:
On October 21, 2019 at 11:56:11 AM, Wheeler, Brian wrote:
Rob – The City of Charlottesville carries property insurance coverage through the Virginia Risk Sharing Association (VRSA). In response to recent acts of vandalism to statues in Market Street Park and Court Square Park, the Charlottesville Police Department is continuing its investigation and the City has put its insurer on notice regarding the damage.
A further inquiry sought clarification:
On October 21, 2019 at 2:39 PM, Schilling Show wrote:
Thank you for your response.
Can you please provide me with a copy of any correspondence or notice provided to the insurance company regarding damage to the monuments, and a copy of any correspondence received in return, from the insurance company?
Not surprisingly, nothing between the City and its “insurer” was in writing:
On October 21, 2019 at 03:10:52 PM, Wheeler, Brian wrote:
This was done via telephone with our representative.
The question was clarified and rephrased for Mr. Wheeler’s benefit:
On October 21, 2019 at 3:28 PM, Schilling Show wrote:
Just to be clear:
You have not filed a claim and there was no documentation sent or received regarding this damage?
What response did you receive during the phone call?
Partial truth was revealed in the Wheeler’s final response:
On October 21, 2019 at 04:20:46 PM, Wheeler, Brian (email@example.com) wrote:
Rob – Filing a claim is at the discretion of the City Manager and a claim has not yet been filed. It is not uncommon to put an insurance carrier on notice about incidents that may lead to the filing of a claim and VRSA has documented the incident accordingly.
Charlottesville City has been accused on multiple occasions of “looking the other way” in regard to monument vandalism in hopes of damage-beyond-repair—and an easy solution to removing the controversial statues from their respective parks.
To wit: at the City Manager’s “discretion,” no insurance claim has been filed and no surveillance cameras will be installed. No city-sponsored reward is being offered, nor is the public being asked to participate in the apprehension of suspects.
In contrast to the investigation, arrests, trial, conviction, and sentencing of two men for removing illegally placed tarps from the monuments, the City’s present inaction in regard to protecting its own history—and the ability of observers to enjoy and learn from it—is nothing short of atrocious.