Citizens of Front Royal, Va., plan to come together tomorrow to make their voices heard in a peaceful protest of the institutional injustices against people of color across the United States.
The newly formed Front Royal Unites has organized a Friday, June 5 march beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Bing Crosby Stadium on E. 8th Street in Front Royal.
“It is important to remember to remain peaceful — there have been sustained reports of people showing up to agitate the outcome of this event,” wrote Front Royal Unites organizers in a statement released on Wednesday. “But together and through unity, we will not allow them to disturb our peace and take away the focus from the movement. We will lead by example.”
The Front Royal Unites event, like many across the nation and world, was spurred by the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., after a white police officer knelt on the black man’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street.
Arrests and charges of four police officers followed. Derek Chauvin, the officer who pinned Floyd to the ground by his neck, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. But on Wednesday prosecutors charged him with a more serious count of second-degree murder.
Earlier today, a judge set bail for the other three former Minneapolis police officers charged in Floyd’s death at $1 million each, or $750,000 under certain conditions, including that they do not work in law enforcement or have any contact with Floyd’s family. The officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao have been charged with second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
While the arrests and charges have been referred to as a good first step in bringing justice to Floyd and his family members, protests have been held throughout the U.S. and across the globe by people calling for larger changes that would end systemic racism, police brutality and other issues of inequality, such as those related to housing, education, employment, and healthcare for blacks and other people of color.
The mission of Front Royal Unites is to eradicate white supremacy, according to the group’s statement.
“We believe silence is complicit and injustices against minority groups must stop!” according to the group’s mission statement. “From the courthouse to the schoolhouse, bridges must be built and not burnt down. We want to ensure that regardless of your complexion, you are not feared, you feel safe, and you get equal footing. Together we are united. Together we are Front Royal.”
Front Royal resident Justin Thorne, an organizer of Front Royal Unites, said during a Facebook video that the group seeks “multiple changes for black lives,” especially in small towns.
Front Royal Unites organizer Justin Thorne of Front Royal spoke to group members in an online Facebook video earlier this week reiterating the need for a peaceful march.
“We are going to be the better people and try to make a change for the better,” Thorne said in his video. “We are protesting for black lives, for justice, and for unity. We need to educate people. We need to change this system.”
Earlier this week, Front Royal unites met with officials from the Town of Front Royal, the Front Royal Police Department, and the Warren County Sheriff’s Department to develop an agreeable plan for the march, including the route.
Front Royal Police Chief Kahle Magalis told the Royal Examiner that “meetings with Front Royal Unites worked out fantastically.”
In addition, a few of the police department’s officers, along with members of the local sheriff’s department, “will be taking part in the march” and walking alongside the participants, Magalis said.
“We are fortunate for those individual citizens within our community who have helped, are helping, and will continue to help to see this event through,” said Front Royal resident Samuel Leon Porter, a Virginia advisor and head of communications for Front Royal unites.
The rain-or-shine event begins at 6:30 p.m. and will start and end at Bing Crosby Stadium, wrapping up around 8:30 p.m. A rally, several speeches, and a cookout will take place at the stadium following the march. The event is free to the public.
Among the scheduled speakers at the stadium following the march is Front Royal Councilwoman Letasha Thompson, a life-long Front Royal resident.
“Everyone has the right to protest,” Thompson posted June 3 on the Front Royal Unites site. “The key here is to remain PEACEFUL even if someone tries to provoke you. I’m looking forward to a peaceful and UNIFYING event where we all stand UNITED.”
Other speakers include Porter, a retired member of the U.S. Navy; local community leaders Kenny Sonnie and Gene Kilby; and Kori Morris, the volunteer coordinator for Front Royal Unites. The master of ceremonies is Stevi Hubbard, who is head of community relations for Front Royal Unites.
Porter said that for residents concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, they may still participate by parking their vehicles at the stadium where they will be able to hear participating speakers being broadcast over the stadium loudspeakers.
And while members of Front Royal Unites have received some negative comments, Thorne urged participants not to have that same mindset and to instead remain positive, peaceful and focused.
“Prepare yourself mentally to hold it all in,” Thorne said on his video. “It’s very important. This is a peaceful protest and it needs to stay peaceful so that we can get our point across.”
Front Royal Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick said he thinks the march and rally will be successful. “I have every hope this will be a peaceful event,” Tederick told the Royal Examiner this evening.
The Front Royal Unites march will begin and end at Bing Crosby Stadium.
Watch this exclusive Royal Examiner video with Front Royal Unites organizers:
Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – July 14, 2020; calls for stronger enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines
Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response. Here are the highlights:
- increasing statewide cases
- increase testing
- on average, 10,000 tests administered daily statewide
- the state should increase the enforcement of face coverings and social distancing
- reminded business owners that they have the right to deny service to someone who is not following the mask mandate or social distancing guidelines
- plan to impose an earlier cutoff for alcohol sales at restaurants is also being considered
- state continues to receive shipments of personal protective equipment, and hospitals have reported no shortages
- school boards and universities will continue to make decisions regarding this school year
- update on the rent and mortgage relief program
- DMV locations continue to reopen
More images from another Front Royal Historic Downtown weekend
In addition to the “From the Heart” weekend downtown Front Royal entertainment mentioned in a related story on music, haircutting and styling, this past weekend saw other downtown events and entertainment.
Those events, among others we may have missed from simply not knowing about them until after the fact, included the Mark Clay-led Vinyl Tracks band entertaining with its repertoire of classic vinyl-era music at a Thursday evening Gazebo Gathering;
a Saturday vintage car show on East Main Street;
a late afternoon Friday resurrection of the weekly “Yappy Hour” Julia Wagner Animal Shelter/WC Humane Society fundraising event at East Main Street’s ViNoVa wine, beer and tapa restaurant, as previewed by Malcolm Barr Sr. on Royal Examiner’s website;
and the band Starting Early tracing rock history through the 1960’s-‘70’s beginning with a properly suited Beatles set, followed by some classic power trio (Hendrix, Cream) and quartet (Zeppelin) music, among others, followed by some originals in the Virginia Beer Museum back-of-house outdoor Biergarten.
Enjoy these images from those events, and come on downtown for the next installment of Front Royal re-opened, masks and social distancing encouraged, as Warren County and all of Virginia walk the tightrope between pandemic precautions and COVID-19 spikes and economic rebounding this unprecedented summer of 2020.
From the Heart helps Front Royal celebrate a measured return to business – But can I schedule a haircut and shave after the band is done?
It may not be your traditional “Barbershop Quartet”, but to celebrate Virginia’s measured walk-back of COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic emergency management restrictions, punctuated by the Town of Front Royal’s weekend downtown business district street closings facilitating a walking mall ambience to draw residents and tourists back out into the properly social distanced commercial world, “Mr. John’s Barbershop” proprietor John Landes has brought his band From the Heart into play – literally.
As of June 27, according to the band Facebook page, From the Heart has set up in front of Landes’s Chester Street barbershop on Friday and Saturday evenings from approximately 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to bring their mix of classic country, rock and popular music to Front Royal’s re-opened Historic Downtown Business District.
From the Heart gets fans dancing and smiling with material spanning decades and genres – you’re liable to hear favorites from Charlie Daniels to Rod Stewart among others on your personal top of the charts list.
And while you can’t get a haircut while the band is on – it’s hard to sing, play and snip those overgrown locks at the same time – a small contribution to the band’s tip jar might just get you to the front of the line for the barbershop’s next day of business.
From the Heart is, in addition to Landes on guitar, harmonica and vocals, his wife May on guest vocals; Kenny Smith on banjo, guitar and vocals; ‘Bubba’ Ward on rhythm guitar; and Marty Jacobs on percussion.
Don’t miss the Humane Society of Warren County’s Annual Yard Sale
The Humane Society of Warren County is poised for the biggest yard sale in their history this Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18. Thanks to a huge outpouring of support from the local community, the donations for this year’s annual yard sale far outnumber any previous year’s donations.
The HSWC Annual Yard Sale has been an important source of funding for the shelter since it began in 2013, typically bringing in $2,000-$4,000. This year, due to the enormous amount of donations, the goal fundraising goal for the shelter is $5,000.
Because the shelter is open by appointment only, there will be a portable toilet and portable hand-washing station available, and social distancing will be required. Shopping will be 10am until 2pm on both Friday and Saturday.
Local non-profit groups have been invited out on Saturday to take anything that will benefit their cause at no charge.
Since it’s beginning, the yard sale has operated using a “name your price” format, which means that there are amazing deals to be found. Highlights for this year’s sale include two sets of golf clubs, a swing set, a leather sectional couch, new with tags clothes and shoes, and kitchenware.
“I hope people come out to shop, there are so many great items, and every dollar spent is used for our life-saving work” says Meghan Bowers, Executive Director at the shelter. “This is one of my favorite events, and I am really looking forward to it.”
Derrick Leasure of R-MA assumes Front Royal Rotary presidency
Randolph-Macon Academy Assistant Dean of Students Derrick E. Leasure officially took over as president of the Rotary Club of Front Royal at an “actual” ceremony in the town’s community center on Friday, July 10.
Outgoing president Bret Hrbek passed the gavel after his year in office, made more challenging when interrupted by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, which sent its regular weekly meetings since March to the internet via “Zoom.”
The real-life meeting that greeted Leasure, attended by a dozen past presidents from John Marlow (1977) to the retiring Hrbek, likely will return to “Zoom” as Leasure begins his tenure. After the gavel was passed, Leasure swore in members of the new board of directors, including Hrbek.
“He has a difficult task before him,” Hrbek had said earlier. Like other local organizations, Rotary has taken a hit in its fundraising activities but nevertheless managed to take in $126,000 last year for local and international projects.
Leasure, who came to R-MA’s middle school in 2008, earned his Bachelor’s Degree at Ohio State University and a Master’s in History from the University of Arizona. He is an active member of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce, serving on the education committee. Outside his teaching and later administration posts at the Academy, Leasure has been a student mentor and head coach in golf as well as his promotion to assistant dean.
Married to Michelle Cantlebary, the couple has two children. He joined Rotary shortly after arriving in Front Royal 18 years ago.
(Malcolm Barr Sr., our contributing writer, is a member of the Rotary Club of Front Royal)
LFCC Professor Mark Sunderlin receives statewide recognition
Professor Mark Sunderlin recently received the George B. Vaughan Leadership Award for Outstanding Adjunct Faculty from the Virginia Community College System with support from the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.
Earlier this year, Professor Sunderlin was named the 2020 LFCC Distinguished Faculty Award winner.
An adjunct faculty member for the past eight years, he spent many years working for the federal government, before serving as the senior technical manager of AOL for seven years. Currently, Professor Sunderlin is principal data engineer for Verizon Media Services.