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Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring legacy: ‘Beyond Vietnam’

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Sometimes words remain appropriate, not only for the era in which they are spoken, but for multiple eras, and perhaps for the length of humanity’s struggle to overcome the worst aspects of our collective nature – greed, avarice, hypocrisy, and the bondage of others to forward one’s own self-interests – in other words, FOREVER.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of April 4, 1967, now known as the “Beyond Vietnam” speech are such words. They illustrate the depth of Dr. King’s comprehension that the Civil Rights Movement was a struggle of more than one race in one nation at one point in time.

These words, spoken exactly one year to the day before his assassination, are why some pause each January to remember and celebrate his life; while others are simply reminded of why he was, and continues to be hated by those attracted to power without compassion.

And as in past years when Royal Examiner has published these words on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we must again ask ourselves if where we are as a nation and a world today is a legacy of our collective failure to heed Dr. King’s words of April 1967? And ask again – how close to the “too late” moment Dr. King described in 1967 are we today?


– Due to the speech’s length, some introductory comments and other details on the Vietnam era have been edited out – deletions are indicated by (…) and some points have been emphasized with bold highlights.

There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. – Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photos/Public Domain)

Martin Luther King, Jr.
‘Beyond Vietnam’

I come to this great magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization that brought us together, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” … The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one …

Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world … Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history … For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us …

“Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?” “Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” “Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,” they ask?

And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live …

Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such …

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent …

Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.” It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.
But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men – for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

… Finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of son-ship and brotherhood. Because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula … They must see Americans as strange liberators … We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops … Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness … They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of new violence?

… At this point, I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved … and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now.

If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I speak as a child of God … I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote: “Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.”

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit … and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about … Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

And so, such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God. In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution … It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin … the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives, and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.”

It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.”

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them, is not just … America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood …

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. – Martin Luther King Jr.

We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice … It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries … A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies … This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind … When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response … I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality … This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is God” …

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late … Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”

There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.” We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace … and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight … Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world …

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

“Once to every man and nation comes a moment do decide,
“In the strife of Truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
“Some great cause, God’s new Messiah offering each the bloom or blight,
“And the choice goes by forever ’twixt that darkness and that light.
“Though the cause of evil prosper, yet ’tis truth alone is strong
“Though her portions be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong
“Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown
“Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.”

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

 

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Attorney General Jason Miyares renews partnership agreement with Front Royal TRIAD.

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On September 29, 2022, Attorney General Jason Miyares renewed the agreement with the local TRIAD organization.

The Attorney General was the guest speaker and answered questions from the audience. The Board of Supervisors, Commonwealth Attorney John Bell, Delegate Bill Wiley, and several senior groups were also in attendance.
This renewed TRIAD partnership agreement between the Office of the Attorney General, the Front Royal Police Department, the Warren County Fire and Rescue, and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office will provide our community with the highest quality of services.

What is TRIAD?

Triad is a cooperative effort of law enforcement agencies (police/fire/sheriffs), senior citizens, and senior organizations focused on reducing crimes against our most vulnerable citizens: our seniors.

Triad aims to reduce the fear of crime and victimization among seniors by increasing awareness of scams and fraud, strengthening communication between law enforcement and senior communities, and educating seniors on local and state resources available in their community. This goal is accomplished through speaking engagements, community collaborations, targeted training for seniors and law enforcement practitioners, providing a support mechanism to current local Triad groups, and marketing the Triad concept to non-participating localities.

Virginia has over 200 cities, counties, and towns with signed Triad agreements. Virginia Triad has also been recognized by the National Association of Triads, Inc. as having the highest number of active local groups nationwide. It is the only state in the nation with a statewide coordinated office at the Executive Level of government.


Currently, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office provides a deputy representative to attend monthly TRIAD meetings and serves as the chairperson of the TRIAD group. This deputy, along with the Sheriff, has been going to the Warren County Senior Center weekly for the past several years to educate them on scams/fraud and promote positive relationships within the community.

If you are interested in learning about TRIAD or joining the partnership, please get in touch with Lt. Robbie Seal at (540) 635-4128 or attend one of the TRIAD monthly meetings.
TRIAD wished to recognize the following for their participation.
  • Warren County Dept. of Social Services
  • Seniors First
  • Phoenix Project
  • Blue Ridge Hospice
  • Carol Miller
  • Valley Health
  • Warren County Senior Center
  • Royal Examiner
  • Warren Coalition
  • Front Royal Moose Lodge
  • Front Royal Elks Lodge
  • Front Royal Police Department
  • Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services

Watch the ceremony and remarks from Attorney General Jason Miyares in this exclusive Royal Examiner video.

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Ennis Family files $6 million wrongful death lawsuit, citing excessive force by Warren County deputies

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The Family of Ralph C. Ennis has filed a $6 million federal lawsuit claiming that excessive force by two Warren County Sheriff’s deputies during a traffic stop led to his death. The suit alleges that the deputies used excessive force against Ralph C. Ennis, 77, who died on April 15, less than two weeks after sustaining a head injury in an April 2 traffic stop by the Warren County Sheriff’s Department.

Ian R. Ennis, the son of the late Ralph C. Ennis and administrator of the estate, filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia on August 8.  Deputies Tyler Poe and Zachary Fadley are named as defendants.

Warrenton, Va. Attorney Susan Pierce, of the law firm Walker Jones, P.C. is co-counsel for Ennis, along with Richmond attorney Seth Carroll, of the Commonwealth Law Group.

Deputy Fadley is being represented by Fairfax attorney Alexander Francuzenko, a partner of law firm of Cook Craig & Francuzenko, PLLC.  Deputy Poe is being represented by Carlene Booth Johnson, with the Perry Law Firm of Dillwyn, Virginia.


In separate responses to the lawsuit, both deputies deny the allegations and request a dismissal of the lawsuit.  Poe’s co-counsel Carlene Booth Johnson filed a memorandum in support of dismissal of the suit on September 12, writing that, “While the Complaint conclusorily [SIC] asserts that plaintiff is bringing this action in his capacity as the Administrator of the Estate of Ralph Ennis, the Complaint does not offer a single fact supporting that assertion. The plaintiff has not shown when, where, or how he qualified as the Administrator of the Estate of Ralph Ennis, nor provided any facts or evidence showing that he properly qualified to bring this action.”

Johnson on Friday, September 23, filed a memorandum in the Harrisonburg court to further support Poe’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Ian Ennis had no standing to file the lawsuit.

Ralph Ennis, 77, died on April 15 in the care of Valley Health System’s Blue Ridge Hospice, in Winchester, 13 days after sustaining a head injury during an April 2 traffic stop in Warren County.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manassas stated in an August 15 email to Royal Examiner that, “The cause of death is complications of Alzheimer disease, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.  The manner of death is natural.”

However, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manassas is considering reopening the case, sources familiar with the case told Royal Examiner earlier this week, though Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) Administrative Deputy Arkuie Williams has not confirmed that information.

Despite the medical examiner’s initial ruling, the plaintiff claims it was the action of Deputies Fadley and Poe that cause his father’s death. The two-count complaint alleges that Poe and Fadley used excessive force in violation of Ralph Ennis’ Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.

The court document states, “The Fourth Amendment is applicable to the Commonwealth of Virginia under the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendants unreasonably used excessive force against Mr. Ennis when they effected their arrest by slamming the elderly man face first into his vehicle and then tackling him the ground after he was already restrained, causing a traumatic and ultimately fatal brain injury.

“No objectively reasonable law enforcement officer would have believed that the elderly and visibly confused Mr. Ennis posed any threat or significant risk of harm to himself or any other person. No objectively reasonable law enforcement officer would believe that the level of force used by the Defendants was necessary to subdue an elderly and visibly confused man during a routine traffic stop.  As such, the Defendants violated Ralph Ennis’ clearly established constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants actions, Ralph Ennis suffered the injuries described above, resulting in his death.”

The second count accuses Poe and Fadley of battery leading to Ralph Ennis’ wrongful death, in violation of Virginia law.

The complaint states, “Virginia Code § 8.01-50, et seq., establishes liability for the individuals when their wrongful acts result in the death of another person. At all relevant times, both Defendants had a duty to use only the amount of force necessary in subduing Mr. Ennis.

“The extensive injuries suffered by Mr. Ennis demonstrate the excessive force used to subdue a person who was complying with verbal commands, appeared elderly and confused, and posed no immediate threat to others.

“These actions constitute a battery under Virginia law. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants battery against Ralph Ennis, Mr. Ennis suffered the injuries described above, resulting in his death.”

The complaint notes that Ralph Ennis was traveling southbound on Winchester Road and passed Warren County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Christopher Pontious, who was operating stationary radar, at approximately 1:20 a.m. on April 2.

Pontious reported that Ennis was traveling 63 mph in a 55-mph zone and that Ennis’ vehicle was swaying from side to side in its lane and had a problem with a taillight.

“Deputy Pontious radioed in that he was attempting to stop a vehicle and it had slowed down but was continuing towards Front Royal. After Deputy Pontious reported that Mr. Ennis passed several opportunities to pull over, he activated his vehicle siren. In reaction, Mr. Ennis slowed his vehicle to around 35 mph, but continued southbound towards Front Royal,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit cites events recorded by Pontious’ body camera; Deputy Pontious activated his body camera while following Mr. Ennis’ vehicle.

“Shortly after Deputy Pontius activated his siren, Mr. Ennis turned his vehicle into the parking lot of the Royal Farms gas station, located directly off Winchester Road at 260 Crooked Run Road, Front Royal, Virginia 22630.

“Mr. Ennis’ vehicle drove through the Royal Farms parking lot to an adjoining 7-11 parking lot, located at 251 Crooked Run Plaza, Front Royal, Virginia 22630, and pulled into a parking space.

“Deputy Pontious pulled up behind Mr. Ennis’ vehicle – blocking it in. He turned off his vehicle siren, but left the vehicle blue lights activated. Deputy Pontious exited his vehicle and began commanding for Mr. Ennis to “step out of the car,“ the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff’s filing continues, “Attempting to comply, Mr. Ennis then began to exit.  However, he had only slightly opened his driver side door when Canine Officer Sergeant Gregory shouted a conflicting command of “Driver stay in the car! Follow our commands!” and notified Mr. Ennis of the presence of a canine officer, adding that “if you do not follow our commands, you will get bit!” At this point, Mr. Ennis started to close his door.

“Another officer on the scene then commanded for Mr. Ennis to “Get out of the car!” and “Get your hands up!” the complaint attests. At this point Mr. Ennis slowly opened his driver side door. Deputy Pontious then commanded for Mr. Ennis to “step out of the car!”

Mr. Ennis stepped out of his vehicle appearing “visibly confused and disoriented,” the complaint maintains.

Ralph Ennis tries to make sense of conflicting orders he is receiving from deputies on the scene of his April 2 traffic stop. Photos from WCSO Deputy Christopher Pontious body-cam footage filed with Ennis family lawsuit

“Deputy Pontious ordered Mr. Ennis to “face away from me,” “face 7-11,” and “to turn around!” while pointing behind Mr. Ennis. Mr. Ennis, who appeared to not hear or was generally confused by the multiple and sometimes conflicting commands, began to slowly walk away from his vehicle towards Deputy Pontious while holding his vehicle keys in his right hand,” the complaint states.  Mr. Ennis continued to appear confused and disoriented, but complied with Deputy Pontious’ command to turn around and began walking back to the rear of his vehicle.

The complaint continues, “Deputy Pontious then ordered Mr. Ennis to “drop your keys!” and Mr. Ennis responded by turning around to face Deputy Pontious. In the video, Mr. Ennis appears to mouth the word “What?”

“At this time, Defendant Poe quickly rushed Mr. Ennis from behind, and without announcing his presence or giving Mr. Ennis any verbal command, violently grabbed Mr. Ennis and slammed Mr. Ennis’ face and body into the rear of Mr. Ennis’ truck.

“Mr. Ennis screamed out in a panic, “Wait a minute!” as the force of Defendant Poe violently slamming him into the vehicle caused Mr. Ennis’ baseball cap to fly off his head.”

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office official press release regarding this incident stated that: “Mr. Ennis continued failure to comply with the lawful orders to stop, resulted in a WSCO deputy approaching Mr. Ennis from behind, and grabbing his arms in an attempt to control Ennis and place him under arrest. The deputy continued to give him commands to stop resisting, drop the keys and place his hand behind his back as Mr. Ennis was escorted several feet away to the rear of his pickup truck,” the complaint states.

The complaint continues, “However, Deputy Pontious’ body camera footage clearly shows that Mr. Ennis was visibly confused and attempting to comply with all commands when Defendant Poe gave no verbal command or warning and slammed, not “escorted,” Mr. Ennis into the rear of his vehicle, causing significant injuries.”

“As Defendant Poe violently pressed Mr. Ennis against the rear of his vehicle, Defendant Fadley immediately rushed in from the side, and without announcing his presence or giving any verbal command, violently pushed and tackled Mr. Ennis and Defendant Poe to the pavement behind the vehicle,” the complaint says.

After having his head slammed into the cab of his truck by Tyler Poe, the first deputy to make physical contact with him, a second deputy, Zachary Fadley, charged the scene and took both Ennis and Deputy Poe to the parking lot pavement with Ennis on the bottom. Below, a pool of blood left where Ennis’ head hit the pavement.

“As Mr. Ennis was pushed and tackled towards the pavement, his legs were caught on his vehicle’s protruding tow hitch as he tumbled sideways with Officer Fadley’s entire body weight on top of him. Defendant Fadley issued his first verbal command – “Get on the ground!” –as Mr. Ennis’ head slams into the pavement,” the complaint maintains.

“While Defendants handcuffed Mr. Ennis on the ground, Mr. Ennis can be heard on Deputy Pontious’ body camera footage frantically pleading for help and crying out in extreme pain.”

The complaint included still images from the body camera to show Mr. Ennis on the ground directly after sustaining injuries to his face, head, and extremities, as well as the extent of the bleeding from his injuries. They are too graphic for publication.

The complaint continues, “Front Royal Police Department Corporal R.D. Lowery, who was also dispatched to the scene of the incident, arrived in time to observe the Defendants encounter with Mr. Ennis. In his report, Corporal Lowery (who was farther away from Mr. Ennis than the Defendants) described his initial impression of Mr. Ennis as appearing “elderly and confused.”

The complaint further states, “Corporal Lowery described his observations as follows: “[t]he Deputy (Defendant Poe) slammed the male into the camper top face first. I observed the male spit something out on the pavement just below his body. Another Deputy (Defendant Fadley) came from the side of the male while the Deputy had his hands behind his back. The male was pushed over but his legs caught the hitch on the back of the truck.”

The lawsuit continues, “As Corporal Lowery left the scene of the incident, his body camera footage captured him stating “that was f***king unjust and f***ing un-f***ing called for” and “Jesus Christ, oh that’s going to be …” before the video cuts out. Corporal Lowery’s subjective impression of the situation clearly demonstrates he believed that there was an excessive use of force against Mr. Ennis.”

After the altercation, Mr. Ennis was handcuffed, searched, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were called to the scene to tend to Mr. Ennis’ injuries. The complaint states that deputies found no weapons on Mr. Ennis.

The complaint continues, “There is no factual basis within the materials to indicate that Mr. Ennis gave any of the officers reason to believe he was armed. Mr. Ennis did not act in a threatening manner in any way. On the contrary, Mr. Ennis at all times presented as an elderly man who appeared confused and disoriented but attempting to comply with various commands in a disconcerting environment. “

Records indicate that Mr. Ennis was “completely sober at the time of the incident and the officer-issued breathalyzer rest returned a result of 0.00.”

Mr. Ennis was transported by an EMS (Emergency Medical Service) unit to Warren Memorial Hospital for treatment at approximately 2:15 a.m. The complaint states that: “Mr. Ennis presented at Warren Memorial Hospital with significant head trauma. Hospital staff reported that Mr. Ennis was “completely confused. He does not know where he is. He is not able to tell me the name of his son. He does not recall the altercation that led to his injury and hospitalization. He is not able to provide any further history.”

Emergency Department physicians diagnosed Ennis with a traumatic brain injury caused by the fall, specifically “a bleed in his brain known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage in the left parietal and occipital lobes” the complaint maintains.

Ennis was then transferred from Warren Memorial Hospital to Winchester Medical Center for the severity of his trauma, arriving at approximately 6:30 a.m.  He was then diagnosed with “terminal intracerebral hemorrhage” the lawsuit maintains. His health continued to decline at the Winchester Hospital and his family opted to change his level of care to comfort or palliative care. Mr. Ennis was then transferred to Blue Ridge Hospice on April 14. 2022, for end-of-life care.  He died from his injuries on April 15, 2022, the complaint states.

The investigation into the incident was referred to the Prince William Commonwealth’s Attorney office by Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Bell.

Prince William Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy Ashworth wrote in a Tuesday night email to Royal Examiner that: “The investigation into this matter is on-going and therefore we cannot publicly comment on it.  The case has been reassigned and is a high priority for this office. I do not have a time frame for when the investigation might be completed.”

Prince William Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy Ashworth

The Assistant Prince William Commonwealth’s Attorney assigned to investigate the case, Teresa Polinske, recently resigned from Ashworth’s staff, which caused the investigation to lag until it was reassigned.

Deputy Poe continues to work at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, though Deputy Fadley is no longer employed there. No information was provided regarding the circumstances of Fadley’s departure, other than it was referred to as a “personnel issue.” Both deputies were initially reassigned off the patrol unit, to desk or other non-interactional with the public duties in the wake of the Ennis incident.

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Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Eastern Chipmunk

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Photos / Blue Ridge Wildlife Center

Wildlife Rehabilitation takes a village!

This young Eastern Chipmunk was found in the middle of a roadway by itself, appearing quiet and sad. While it’s not an infant, this youngster would still be with mom at this age and is too young to take care of itself.

Upon examination, no injuries were found but this patient was obviously dehydrated. Thankfully, after being warmed up and rehydrated, this chipmunk perked right up!

This patient still needs a couple of weeks before its old enough to be on its own. Luckily, we were able to transfer her to Valley Wildlife Care, Inc. of Virginia who are caring for a chipmunk of similar age!


These two will be raised and released together when they are ready, with plenty of time to start preparing for winter.

Socializing is an important part of growing up for many of our young patients. We are fortunate to have a great network of wildlife rehabilitators across Virginia we can reach out to to find patients who are the same age and species.

Wildlife Rehabilitation really does take a village!

The Eastern Chipmunk is the only chipmunk species found in our area and they are an important part of our ecosystem. They disperse seeds from the plants and fungi they feed on and are an important food source for hawks, foxes, bobcats, owls, and more. Their impressive burrows, that they often live in for their entire life, also help to aerate and recycle soil!

Looking for an easy way to help native wildlife? Become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.

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Local Government

Supervisors approve Outdoor Sports Facility over recommendation of County Planning Commission, add to the Short-Term Tourist Rental count

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The Warren County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting September 27th, largely to process a list of nine actions that were not able to be covered during the regular meeting on September 20.

The Board quickly approved two leases of county property, one for a property at 229 Stokes Airport Road to Skydive Front Royal, LLC, for $600 per month, and the other for an apartment at 136 Hillidge Street for $725 per month to Raymond K. Freeman. There were no public comments on either lease, and the Supervisors approved both unanimously.

After a lengthy public hearing, on a 3-2 margin, the Supervisors approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Cole and Danielle Haase for an outdoor sports facility on their property at 19959 Fort Valley Road.  In July, the County Planning Commission held a public hearing and ultimately recommended denial of the permit, citing traffic and neighborhood concerns.  Since that time, the applicants have downsized the proposal and worked to allay the concerns of the neighborhood.  They intend that the majority of the activities will be inside and scaled back outdoor activities to daytime only.  The Haases are also local business owners.  The property was formerly used as a church and multi-activity center by Master’s Touch Ministries.

Local Resident Cody Warren expresses support for the Outdoor Recreation Facility that Cole and Danielle Haase are proposing for a former church facility on Fort Valley Rd.


Public comment was brisk with 24 individuals either speaking in person, or submitting letters, e-mails, or videos. Eighteen were in favor of the permit and six against. Neighbors inveighed against possible traffic increases near an accident-prone intersection at Fort Valley Road and Route 55.  Supporters praised the applicants’ commitment to youth sports, as an important factor in developing teamwork, athletic and social skills for young people.  Sue Russell, whose property adjoins the site, opposed the permit and is worried about the effect of any groundwork or excavations resulting in flooding on her property.

Some of the supervisors recalled when outdoor concerts and events were held at that facility.  Supervisor Vicky Cook appeared to be the leading opponent of the proposed permit, calling into question the applicant’s parking and traffic estimates.  At the end of the discussion, Supervisor Oates offered a motion to approve, seconded by Supervisor Mabe, and the motion passed, 3-2. Chairman Cullers, joined by Supervisors Oates and Mabe, Aye, Supervisors Cook and Butler, No.

A sometimes emotional appeal by applicants Cole and Danielle Haase appears to have turned the tide in favor of their plan for an outdoor recreation facility on Fort Valley Rd. The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 in favor of the Conditional Use Permit.

Michelle Moriarty is requesting a CUP for a short-term tourist rental for the property at 96 Cappy Road that she recently purchased in April of 2022. The applicant will use a local property manager and local professional services for emergencies, maintenance, cleaning, garbage disposal, and guest screening/reservations.  There was one speaker who opposed the permit on the grounds that the area is residential, not business. However, the Virginia General Assembly and the courts system have specifically determined that short-term rentals are a residential activity, rather than a business operation.  Under questioning by the board, the applicant indicated that she had already spoken with all the nearby property owners and provided contact information should any need arise.

Planning Director Wendling indicated that there had so far been no complaints or calls related to these properties.  Supervisor Cook questioned whether the County Sheriff would necessarily know if there was a problem with a short-term rental.  County Administrator Edwin Daley suggested that the County could investigate developing a registry list for approved short-term rentals to allow law enforcement in the Public Safety Communications Center to know who to contact if there was a problem.  Finally, on a motion by Supervisor Oates, seconded by Supervisor Mabe, the Board unanimously approved the permit.

Michelle Moriarty explains to the County Board of Supervisors her proposal for a short-term tourist rental and her actions taken to allay concerns of neighboring occupants.

Kendra Hansen, Kathryn Stuart, Simon Sarver, and Michael Cherubin have applied for a CUP for for a Short-Term Tourist Rental Located at 97 River Overlook Road.  The owners plan to use the property themselves throughout the year, but they would also like to be able to make the property available for short-term lodging for visitors of the Warren County area when they are not occupying it. The applicants will manage the property personally.  There were no speakers for or against the application, and no discussion from the supervisors.  On a motion by Supervisor Mabe, and seconded by Supervisor Cook, the motion passed unanimously.

CAZA Legacy, LLC has requested a CUP for short-term tourist rental for the property located at 241 Wildcat Drive.  The applicants, Robert Chevez and Erin Kavanagh, purchased this residentially zoned property as an investment property and currently are renting the property long-term for over 30 days since purchasing it in February 2022. They do intend to also use it for themselves as a get-away from their homes in Northern Virginia. The applicants are requesting a waiver to the setback requirement of 100-feet from dwelling to dwelling. The dwelling to the west is 50 feet and the applicants submitted a letter from their neighbor giving his support of the application. The applicants will be contracting a local property management company to maintain the property and as realtors they will be marketing and managing the rental.  The property was the subject of an approved permit for short-term tourist use in 2018, however the use was never established and that permit expired.

Two letters from neighboring property owners were submitted.  One was in favor of the permit issuance, and one was opposed.  There were no speakers at the public hearing, and on a motion by Supervisor Mabe, seconded by Supervisor Cook, the Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the permit.

Matthew Williams and Jay Gilbert have applied for a CUP for a short-term tourist rental located at 244 Delicious Road, Linden. The applicants plan to manage the property personally with assistance from local professional services for cleaning and landscaping.  The closest dwelling unit is 115 feet to the northeast.  There were no comments from the supervisors or the public.  One letter supportive of the use was submitted.  On a motion by Supervisor Oates, seconded by Supervisor Butler, the Board unanimously voted to approve.

Matthew Williams and Jay Gilbert have also applied for a CUP for a short-term tourist rental in an agriculturally-zoned property located at 115 Lonesome Flats Road. The applicants plan to manage the property personally with assistance from local professional services for cleaning and landscaping.  The closest dwelling is 313 feet to the north. The planning department provided a letter by a neighbor, John Croft, who opposes the permit.  Mr. Croft alleges that the Road is private, on his land, and has not granted permission to use it for guests.  After a discussion regarding the legal status of an access easement to the applicant’s property, the supervisors decided to approve the permit, subject to verification that an access easement does exist.  Supervisor Cook made a motion to approve, seconded by Supervisor Mabe.  The vote to approve was unanimous.

Thomas Pigeon has applied for a CUP for a Short-Term Tourist Rental Located at 540 Lakeside Drive.  The applicant will contract a local property management company, Shenandoah Valley Property Maintenance LLC, to manage and maintain the property if the use is approved. The owners plan to manage the rental of the property through Airbnb and will review any renters for a positive online ranking. All the required conditions for permitting are complete.  On a motion by Supervisor Butler, Seconded by Supervisor Mabe, the Board voted 4-1 in favor of approval.  Chairman Cullers expressed her concern and continued opposition to properties being purchased by owners with no connection to the area for this use.

The Meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

See the excerpts or the entire September 27th meeting in the linked video from the County website.

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Local News

Governor Glenn Youngkin declares State of Emergency in advance of Hurricane Ian

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Governor Glenn Youngkin declared a State of Emergency in advance of Hurricane Ian, which is expected to impact portions of Virginia starting on Friday, September 30, 2022.

“Hurricane Ian is a large, powerful storm, and current predictions indicate that it may impact parts of Virginia later this week into early next week,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “We want to ensure that our communities have the resources to respond to and recover from any potential effects from the storm. While we recognize that the storm track is still uncertain, I nevertheless encourage all Virginians and visitors to make a plan, have supplies on hand, and follow official sources for the latest forecast information and guidance. Suzanne and I will pray for those in Florida in the storm’s path.”

This State of Emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources and equipment for response and recovery efforts. Virginians should be prepared for the potential of severe rainfall, flooding, wind damage, tornadoes, and other storm-related impacts.

The Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST) actively monitors the situation and coordinates resources and information to prepare for this storm. The Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) will coordinate preparedness, response, and recovery efforts with local, state, and federal officials.


The full text of Executive Order 22 is available here.

Recommendations for Virginians

Make a plan. Plan in advance a route to a safe place, how you will stay in contact with family and friends, and what you will do in different situations. Additional planning resources are available at https://www.vaemergency.gov/prepare/make-a-plan/.

Prepare an emergency kit. For a list of recommended emergency supplies to sustain your household before, during, and after the storm, visit VAemergency.gov/emergency-kit.

Stay informed. Virginians should follow the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for preparedness updates and their local National Weather Service office for the latest weather forecast, advisories, watches, or warnings. Download the FEMA app on your smartphone to receive mobile alerts from the National Weather Service. Power outages are always a concern during weather events—make sure you have a battery-operated radio available to still receive life-saving alerts.

For more information about preparing your business, family, and property against hurricane threats, visit VAemergency.gov/hurricanes and ready.gov/hurricanes.

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Skyline High students protest pending ‘anti-trans’ legislation forwarded by Governor Youngkin

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Thirteen public school students gathered on the Skyline High School campus Tuesday morning to protest Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s initiative in forwarding what they termed an “anti-trans law” in Virginia. The students, aged 14 to 17, were orderly throughout as they moved from the front of the school to the football field authorized for the students’ expression of distress at what they believe would become legalized discrimination against transgender students. One of the student organizers who contacted media about the event scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to noon termed it a “Trans Rights Walkout”.

Students make their way, along with administrators and school security toward the Skyline High football field earmarked for their demonstration against proposed Va. Public School policies forwarded by Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

Asked about the student demonstration, Skyline High Principal Danelle Sperling told Royal Examiner: “When the student-led walkout began, I spoke with two of the organizers and made a plan with them to provide adult supervision to ensure safety, and I made plans to communicate with the involved students’ families about our response. Obviously we want students in class, but our desire was to make sure they remained safe and that their civil liberties were respected. This group of students were peaceful and extremely respectful for the duration of their protest and returned to their school day after about 30 minutes without incident.”

Online research of the recent legislative initiative of apparent 2024 Republican Presidential hopeful Youngkin led us to several reports, including mid-September Washington Post and National Public Radio stories. The Post in particular cited civil rights attorney’s questions about the legal basis for the governor’s mandate regarding bathroom, locker-room and other school facilities uses by transgender children.


At the football field students who have received parental permission to be photographed hold signs expressing their position on the issue of transgender student rights: ‘Equal Rights: Anti-trans = Anti-human’ and ‘LGBTQ Rights Matter’ among others.

But of the legislation itself, NPR notes that, “The Virginia Department of Education released its 2022 Model Policies online Friday (Sept. 16) … The new rules will effected the more than 1 million children enrolled in the state’s public school system.

“The revamped rules explicitly state that students must only use bathrooms and locker rooms associated with the sex assigned to them at birth. If a student wants to participate in a sport or other extracurricular activities, they must, again, only participate in teams that align with the sex assigned at birth.

“Further, the legal name and sex of a student can’t be changed ‘even upon written instruction of a parent or eligible student’ without an official legal document or court order.”

The Post story by Rachel Weiner quotes employment and civil rights attorney Joshua Erlich stating, “Gov. Youngkin is trying to pick a political fight by attacking trans students, but his model policies are in conflict with recent court rulings … Discrimination against transgender individuals is illegal discrimination on the basis of sex.”

The Post story also notes that, “Recent federal court decisions have upheld protections for transgender people, including a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision, written by Trump appointee Neil M. Gorsuch, that determined that civil rights law barring sex discrimination covers transgender people,” and that, “In 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that a transgender student could not be barred from using a boys’ bathroom. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of that ruling last year.”

The Post also noted conflicting legal messaging and a failure to clarify from the Virginia governor’s office: “The directive, which does not go into effect until after a 30-day public comment period beginning later this month, says schools must comply with federal precedent and the Virginia Human Rights Act, but it does not explain how. A spokeswoman for the governor declined to answer specific questions about the policy, saying in a statement that it ‘requires that schools treat every single student with dignity and respect.’ Some districts have vowed to resist it,” the Post reported.

And so it goes from Richmond to Front Royal and Warren County, as around the Commonwealth, as established legal precedent and human rights butt heads with political ambition and the nation’s widening social divide.

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Upcoming Events

Sep
30
Fri
4:30 pm Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Sep 30 @ 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar will be held Friday, Sept 30th, from 4:30 – 6:30 pm, and Saturday, October 1st, from 8 am – 2 pm, in the Front Royal United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. Baked goods, jewelry[...]
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Sep 30 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
 
Oct
1
Sat
8:00 am Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Oct 1 @ 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar will be held Saturday, October 1st, from 8 am – 2 pm, in the Front Royal United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. Baked goods, jewelry and accessories, Silent Auction, holiday decorations, and apple dumplings[...]
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 1 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. During Fall Farm Days’ Nature Weekend, get in touch with nature and explore a managed landscape rich in biodiversity. Discover native flora and fauna, learn the craft of beekeeping, the importance of various[...]
11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 1 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and are ready to show[...]
5:00 pm WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser @ Bowling Green Country Club North
WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser @ Bowling Green Country Club North
Oct 1 @ 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser @ Bowling Green Country Club North
WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser – An Evening of Caring & Sharing Come out to support WATTS homeless shelter (Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter) and help us fundraise for our upcoming overnight shelter season! A fun[...]
Oct
2
Sun
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 2 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. During Fall Farm Days’ Nature Weekend, get in touch with nature and explore a managed landscape rich in biodiversity. Discover native flora and fauna, learn the craft of beekeeping, the importance of various[...]
11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 2 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and are ready to show[...]
Oct
5
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Oct 5 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Oct
8
Sat
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 8 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Come back to the family farm at Sky Meadows. Explore the park’s sustainable farming practices, visit the barred plymouth rock hens, learn about our cattle operation in partnership with the Department of Corrections’[...]