VA-ALERT: Norfolk big turnout! GMU responds incorrectly


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W.E.G.
August 29, 2007, 05:06 PM
From: VCDL President
Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2007 4:42 PM
Subject: VA-ALERT: Norfolk big turnout! GMU responds incorrectly


1. Over 100 VCDL members fill Norfolk City Council chambers!
2. GMU responds on regulation, but they have it wrong
3. Key paper by Virginia Tech killer Cho suddenly shows up at last minute

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1. Over 100 VCDL members fill Norfolk City Council chambers!
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Approximately 100 VCDL members showed up last night. About 2/3 of which were from the Tidewater area.

But, we had people come from as far as Radford (VCDL EM Dave Knight), Northern Virginia (Board members Jim Snyder, Jim Kadison, Bruce Jackson, EMs Dave Yates, Dave Vann, and many others).

Some came from Manassas to return the favor to those from Tidewater that travelled all the way to Manassas earlier this year when VCDL protested police harassment in Manassas.

VCDL - you guys are the best, hands down!

I have audio of all but the testimony of Dan Moore (the black gun owner who was harassed TWICE and told that the police would continue to harass him each time they saw him open carrying). I will get that posted to the VCDL web site soon so you can hear what was said.

I may also get some complete video from a local cable station.

However in the meantime, I do have a link to some video from the local media.

Let me say that City Council was not a group of happy-campers last night, as person after person lambasted them for the way they run the City - ignoring state gun laws and letting their police officers run roughshod over the citizens.

As if the City couldn't sink any lower, City Council member Riddick, shamefully left the room when the first VCDL member started to speak. He did so, according to the local papers, to protest our protest!

Mr. Riddick was clearly not interested in what citizens had to say about how Norfolk is run. Believe me, he should have stayed to listen and learn.

So much for our right to redress grievances with the government.

Mr. Riddick - you are a disgrace and you should do the decent thing and resign so that someone who cares about the City and its citizens can sit in that chair!

What was very interesting were all the local people who were not with VCDL who spoke, one after the other, about police harassment and brutality. When those citizens realized that VCDL was speaking on the same thing, they stood with everyone else in the room when VCDL Board member Dennis O'Connor asked those in the room to stand if they agreed with VCDL.

Virtually the entire audience stood.

Some of the testimony was quite moving, including that of Chet Szymecki's wife, Deborah, and Chet himself.

On another weird note, as soon as Chet finished speaking (Chet was the last on the list), the City Council members left the room in a flash! I blinked my eyes and they were gone!

I mean Elvis Presley didn't just leave the building, he raced out the door! ;-) I pictured City Council's chairs up their still spinning, like in the cartoons.

I guess they didn't want to talk to any of us after the meeting. :-(

One woman, who almost got raped a few years earlier and didn't get a chance to sign up, was not allowed to speak, even though she asked several times to be able to.

Like I said, Norfolk City Council doesn't want to hear from the lowly citizen. (But they WILL hear from Chet and Deborah's lawyer ;-))

In the past when VCDL had to address City Council, the Mayor was at least cordial and thanked us for our input (even if he ultimately ignored it). Not this time. Scowling was the rule of the day, instead.

Here is the media coverage:

This one has video, so you can watch EM Dave Vann giving the City hell and Chet addressing City Council:

http://tinyurl.com/24gbmn

Gun-rights advocates stage protest at Norfolk council meeting By HARRY MINIUM, The Virginian-Pilot

NORFOLK

More than 100 gun-rights advocates, most carrying handguns on their hips and wearing buttons saying "Guns Save Lives," came to the City Council on Tuesday night to protest what they called harassment of law-abiding gun owners by city officials.

The protest was called by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun-rights group, after Chet Szymecki of Yorktown was arrested in June at Harborfest for carrying a gun.

Szymecki was arrested for violating a city ordinance banning guns at Harborfest - an ordinance that officials now acknowledge violates state law. City Attorney Bernard A. Pishko said city officials were unaware of a state law prohibiting localities from banning guns.

Carrying a weapon openly is legal in Virginia, even at a large gathering such as Harborfest. Once city officials realized their error, the charges against Szymecki were dropped.

"We made a mistake," Councilman Barclay C. Winn said. "It was unintentional." [HAHAHAHA! Now THAT'S funny! Surely he didn't say that with a straight face? - PVC]

Most who came to protest didn't appear to believe it was an innocent mistake.

"You know it was illegal," said Dave Vann, who drove from Falls Church to speak. "You arrested someone, and now it's going to cost you dearly."

Szymecki, a Navy veteran, said he was manhandled and hurt and that his wife, Deborah, his three children and two other children who accompanied them were traumatized. He said he has hired Norfolk attorney Stephen Merrill.

An emotional Deborah Szymecki told the council that after several police officers were done handcuffing her husband, she was left without money or the keys to the family car.

Others rose to describe incidents in which they said they were questioned and often handcuffed by police for simply carrying a firearm openly.

"Apparently you have some officers who don't understand the law," said the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Philip Van Cleave of Midlothian.

The meeting drew more rowdy as it continued, with speakers receiving thunderous applause and some expressing disgust for the council. Some used unsavory terms to describe the police. [You reap what you sow. - PVC]

Councilman Paul R. Riddick left the meeting as gun-rights advocates began speaking, he said, in protest of their protest. [Wow - what a statesman! - PVC]

Kim Barton, who would not say where she lives, tried to speak but was told by Mayor Paul Fraim that she couldn't because she had not signed up to speak.

"I want to hear what she has to say," Vann said.

Fraim replied, "I'm running this meeting" and informed Vann his time to speak had expired. [Fraim ran the meeting the same way he runs the City :-( - PVC]

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http://tinyurl.com/2phjfx

Gun rights group defends man's right to carry weapon

10:16 PM EDT on Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Reported by: Shannon Sims

Members from the Virginia Citizens Defense League took aim at City Council over a man's arrest for carrying a gun at this summer's Harborfest.

The group says Chet Szmecki's constitutional rights were violated, even though the charges against him were dropped. [Huh? Dropping the charges doesn't mean that his Consitutional rights weren't violated! Is this reporter saying that if she was unlawfully thrown in jail for a month, but then the charges were dropped, that all would be forgiven? - PVC]

His wife says the ordeal was a nightmare.

"The humiliation and the terror my children felt they walked us out the park," recalled Debra Szymecki.

"My children were panicking watching their law abiding father be stripped of his dignity while their mother was being told to be quiet or she too would be arrested if she did not comply," recalled her husband.

Verbal bullets flew from the City Council podium as Virginia Citizen Defense League members spoke out against the alleged harassment by Norfolk Police officers.

"Get your police dept under control," said one angry citizen. "Do not be arresting law abiding citizens "

Virginians have the right to bear arms openly without a permit. However, the city passed an ordinance days before Harborfest prohibiting guns in Town Point Park.

The gun watchdog group says that was unconstitutional.

Dan Moore says, as a black man wearing a gun in public, he is always harassed by police. He claims he was waiting for a friend on Main Street when an officer approached him.

"It's weird," said Moore. "I am just standing there. Next thing I know handcuffs in the back of the car like I am a criminal "

City Council would not comment. The group says they will continue to speak out for their Second Amendment right.

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VCDL will continue to monitor Norfolk for any more harassment of gun owners. Hopefully City Council and the police chief got the message.

Norfolk is one of our main poster children for why statewide gun-law preemption must NEVER be weakened.

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2. GMU responds on regulation, but they have it wrong
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Having 6,400 of you on VA-ALERT is a powerful tool. Unfortunately for me, sometimes I get to be on the other end of that power! :-(

I received *hundreds* of emails sharing a response from Mr. Hubble with George Mason University to VCDL's request to extend the regulation comment period for their proposed gun ban.

Here is what Mr. Hubble wrote in a canned email to everyone:

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"Please be advised that educational institutions of the Commonwealth are exempt from the Administrative Process Act pursuant to 2.2-4002.A.6. of the Code of Virginia. University regulations are instead adopted in conformity with the Virginia Register Act, 2.2-4100, et seq., of the Code of Virginia.

No public hearing is required. The proposed regulation appeared in the August 6th Virginia Register of Regulations in conformity with the Virginia Register Act."

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**I'm not buying it.** Here is what he claims gives them the exemption:

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2.2-4002. Exemptions from chapter generally.

A. Although required to comply with 2.2-4103 of the Virginia Register Act ( 2.2-4100 et seq.), the following agencies shall be exempted from the provisions of this chapter, except to the extent that they are specifically made subject to 2.2-4024, 2.2-4030 and
2.2-4031:

...

6. Educational institutions operated by the Commonwealth, provided that, with respect to 2.2-4031, such educational institutions shall be exempt from the publication requirements only with respect to regulations that pertain to (i) their academic affairs, (ii) the selection, tenure, promotion and disciplining of faculty and employees, (iii) the selection of students, and (iv) rules of conduct and disciplining ***of students.***

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GMU's proposed regulation banning guns affects not only students and employees, it affects the GENERAL PUBLIC, and THAT is NOT one of the exceptions above!

I'm throwing up the yellow flag on this one.

The good news is that they are providing us more fodder for the next General Assembly session; the bad news is we must continue the fight to keep this from becoming a regulation.

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3. Key paper by Virginia Tech killer Cho suddenly shows up at last minute
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Hmmm - a bureaucrat 'snafu' or an attempt to keep some information quiet? Virginia Tech did not turn over this key piece of evidence to the Virginia Tech Panel until this week, but they had turned it over to the State Police, who apparently kept it to themselves.

The paper adds fuel to the fire that Virginia Tech was aware that they had someone with dangerous mental health problems at the university.

http://tinyurl.com/yskxwt

Paper by Cho Exhibits Disturbing Parallels to Shootings, Sources Say

By Sari Horwitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 29, 2007; A01

Seung Hui Cho wrote a paper for a Virginia Tech English class about a gunman planning a mass school shooting, one year before he killed 32 students and faculty members and himself in the deadliest shooting by an individual in U.S. history, according to sources familiar with the paper.

The paper, which was written for a class in fiction writing and has not surfaced publicly, has "eerie" parallels to Cho's shooting inside Norris Hall on April 16, according to several sources. One source called it "kind of a blueprint" for the shootings, but others cautioned that that was an overstatement.

Several of the agencies probing the shootings had not been made aware of the paper's existence, and the investigative panel appointed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine did not receive a copy until recently. The university was supposed to turn over all of Cho's writings to the panel, but this paper was left out.

Additionally, Virginia State Police officials, who also have a copy of the paper, said they could not give it to the panel under state law because it is part of the investigative file. Among the panel's areas of inquiry is the sharing of information among state agencies.

The protagonist in Cho's story plans a mass school murder but in the end does not follow through, the sources said. Some of what Cho wrote was echoed in the words he spoke on the videotape he made on the morning of the shootings, the sources said.

Although Virginia Tech professors knew about the paper and discussed it in the days after the shootings, university officials did not turn it over to the state panel investigating the shootings until last weekend, according to a university source. The paper, described by the sources as somewhat disjointed, was given to state police after the shootings, but the federal agencies assisting in the investigation -- including those doing a criminal profile of Cho -- did not know of it.

"I am not familiar with that paper," said Kevin L. Foust, the FBI supervisory senior resident agent in Roanoke, whose agents are working with the state police to investigate the shootings. "That does not ring a bell."

Several agencies are investigating the massacre, and some parents of the victims have said there hasn't been enough coordination among the probes. The university has issued its findings, and the panel appointed by Kaine (D) is scheduled to release its review tomorrow. State police are conducting a separate criminal investigation.

"I think it's kind of disjointed," parent Suzanne Grimes said of the multiple investigations. Her son, graduate student Kevin Sterne, was shot twice by Cho and survived. "Everyone is entitled to investigate whatever. But I'm a parent. I just want the facts. How did this gunman fall through the . . . cracks?"

Corinne Geller, a state police spokeswoman, said her agency has cooperated with the Kaine panel, but that cooperation is limited by law. "We have provided them with nothing from the criminal investigative file because we can't under Virginia state law," Geller said.

"This is still an active, ongoing investigation. We have testified before the panel, and we have provided them with the information that we can brief them on, and we have assisted the panel with locating and obtaining other information that they can get."

She added that state police investigators were not "holding the paper back" from the FBI or other law enforcement agencies.

Cho wrote the paper for the "Intro to Short Fiction" class that he took in spring 2006, taught by Bob Hicok, an associate professor of English. The gunman described in Cho's paper was in a high school. Cho, according to acquaintances and law enforcement sources, had expressed a fascination with the Columbine High School shootings while he was in middle school.

Hicok, a poet who has published four books, declined to comment. Virginia Tech officials also would not comment on the paper.

"We are in a difficult position," said Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations. "We don't believe it's appropriate to comment about any aspect of the review prior to the release of the governor's panel report. We are anxiously awaiting those findings and recommendations and will defer comment until Thursday."

The paper about the school massacre is the latest of Cho's disturbing and violent college writings to surface. In the days after the shootings, several members of the English department faculty said that Cho's class papers and plays had bothered them but that they had felt constrained in taking any action. The role of professors and their intervention in such cases is one of the areas likely explored by the Kaine panel. Many of the writings included angry teenage characters and killings.

But even as the other writings became public on the Internet and news reports, the school shootings paper written for Hicok never came to light. The sources said Hicok gave that paper and others to law enforcement authorities April 18.

Sources said Cho's writings so alarmed Hicok that, in spring 2006, he went to the English department's chairwoman, Lucinda Roy, and they discussed whether he should be removed from the class. They decided it would be best to keep him in the class, the sources said.

Cho also alarmed the noted Virginia Tech poet Nikki Giovanni in a creative writing class in fall 2005. Giovanni said Cho took pictures of fellow students during class and wrote about death. The day after the shootings, she said in an interview that "kids write about murder and suicide all the time. But there was something that made all of us pay attention closely. None of us were comfortable with that."

In Giovanni's class, the students, including Cho, recited poems they had written. Days later, only seven of 70 or so students showed up for class. She asked why the others didn't come and was told that they were afraid of Cho.

Giovanni then approached Cho and told him that he needed to change the type of poems he was writing or drop her class. Cho declined to leave and told her, "You can't make me."

Giovanni said she appealed to Roy. Roy then taught Cho one-on-one. She said she also urged Cho to seek counseling and told him that she would walk him to the counseling center. Cho said he would think about it.

After the shootings, investigators found a manifesto that Cho had written and left in his dorm room. He also sent a letter to the English department. The manifesto, along with some of his other writings, indicated to investigators that Cho believed people had no respect for him or others he perceived were like him and that he planned to do something about it.

In one writing, he warned: "Kill yourselves or you will never know how the dorky kid that [you] publicly humiliated and spat on will come behind you and slash your throats. . . . Kill yourselves or you will never know the hour the little kid will come with hundreds of ammunition on his back to shoot you down."

In a videotape he sent to NBC News, Cho delivered a venomous tirade about rich "brats" and their "hedonistic needs."

Those angry feelings were reflected in his school paper, the sources said.

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VA-ALERT is a project of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right.

VCDL web page: http://www.vcdl.org
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