Maurice Jones, present Charlottesville City Manager, Sam Sanders, has ceded Lee Park to lawlessness.
The overpaid and under-qualified Jones bumbled in 2011 when he enabled a group called Occupy Charlottesville to commandeer Lee Park 24/7 for more than a month. Rape, substance abuse, and violence followed Jones’ abdication of his authority and his duty to enforce state and local laws—many of which repeatedly were broken during the “occupation.”
Now, Sanders, apparently ignorant of Charlottesville’s recent past, has committed a Jonsian error in his reaction to reports of alleged police misconduct in dealing with two homeless persons who remained in Lee Park after operating hours.
Complaints about this incident, aired at a recent City Council meeting, prompted Sanders to respond publicly via a September 21 press release:
City Manager Addresses Unhoused Community Crisis in Market Street Park
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – City Manager, Samuel Sanders, Jr. has issued a directive to lift the closing time in Market Street Park.
“It came to my attention during Monday night’s City Council meeting of allegations regarding confrontations between Charlottesville Police Department (CPD) and two unhoused community members while enforcing operating hours. This is currently under administrative investigation. The City of Charlottesville takes these allegations seriously and Chief Kochis and I will remain focused on maintaining positive interactions with all of our officers,” said Sanders.
“I want the City to be a catalyst for change in addressing housing insecurity and homelessness, which is why I am assembling my team to build a long-term strategy.”
In the previous illegal inhabitancy , scofflaws finally were rousted from Lee Park following a 45-day occupation—which concluded with the burning of then-Mayor, Dave Norris, in effigy. This confrontational resolution was ugly, at-best, and it put law enforcement officers needlessly at risk.
Sanders seems hell-bent on repeating Jones’ mistakes, lock, stock, and barrel. The temporarily resident homeless in Lee Park, as beneficiaries of Sanders’ largess, ultimately will pay a price for Sanders’ laxity. And, the Charlottesville Police Department—politically restrained from its charge—will once again be enlisted to clean-up an inept City Manager’s mess.