Charlottesville Public Unhappy with City Council, Report on Summer Events

Posted: Updated: Dec 05, 2017 05:18 PM

The author of the independent review into the city of Charlottesville's handling of this summer's protests is standing behind his report in the face of criticism from the community.

Former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy, the author of the report, and City Councilors took a lot of heat from the public during a presentation of the review at Monday night's City Council meeting.

"I feel good about the report," says Heaphy. "I think we did what we were asked to do, which is tell the story in an objective way."

The report reveals failures by police and the city to adequately plan for expected violence and to protect public safety at the “Unite the Right” rally that was held on August 12. Heaphy received criticism on Monday night for leaving race out of the report.

"It needs to be a big part of the discussion about the healing and how we're going to come together as a community," says Heaphy. "It did not, however, really impact decisions that were made by the city over the course of the summer."

People at the City Council meeting got the chance to express their grievances with how the event was handled and its aftermath.

"The community, if it isn't obvious already, very much insists on there being a mechanism for participating in decision-making and governance around this and around policy in the city that affects them immediately," says Megan Bloom, an activist.

City Councilors say they are working to make the city a safer place for the future.

"We've just got to demonstrate that we're coming back better and stronger than ever, and we're coming back with a very different approach," says Councilor Kathy Galvin.

Charlottesville's city manager is working on a set of recommendations to improve police training, change the permitting process for large events, and restore faith in city government.

“Any time you have a large group of people coming together, you have to protect free speech and public safety,” says Heaphy. “You have to equip people with the tools they need to understand and prepare for that event. I think the city manager is committed to that.”

A committee is planning a series of community dialogues to create an action plan.

The city also plans to hire a consultant to develop a security plan for future large events downtown.