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‘Impolite, Rude, and Insufferable’: Charlottesville City Council hears criticism after firing of RaShall Brackney, councilors discuss decision

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 10:41 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - At Tuesday night’s Charlottesville City Council meeting, there was an outpouring of frustration aimed at the city, members of its government, and city councilors, just six days after the decision to fire former Police Chief RaShall Brackney.

Citizens of Charlottesville begged for transparency, accountability, and answers. They don’t know why Brackney was fired, and they were really angry that the meeting started without a space for councilmembers to discuss the firing -- some of whom would be doing so for the first time publicly.

Gloria Beard, an activist, said: “Y’all are the leaders. We want to look up to you, but I can’t trust anybody anymore. I got this heavy heart like I did in 2017.”

Jeff Fogel, an attorney, said: “We want answers. I wonder whether you recognize how impolite, rude, and insufferable you all are when you allow citizens to come to you with serious concerns and just stare at them.”

Melvin Burruss, an attorney, said: “All you’re doing is what they always been doing, is hiding the truth.”

Tanesha Hudson, an activist, said: “It’s the same stuff over and over and over and over again. It’s disgusting.”

Katrina Turner, an activist, said: “Just what is going on with this city?”

Don Gathers, an activist, said: “The mayor ran 4 years ago on transparency, and that’s what this community has been begging and pleading for for some time now. And we’re regressing, we’re heading in the wrong direction yet again.”

At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Nikuyah Walker asked for a vote to set up a time to talk about Brackney’s termination. A second ‘yes’ vote was needed, but she did not get one.

Walker took the virtual microphone first, before any public commenter, and shared her thoughts.

“I would just like to thank Chief Brackney for her leadership and apologize on behalf of the city for a termination that has tarnished her reputation,” Walker said.

Walker continued to praise Brackney for remaining authentic, and credited her for coming to Charlottesville after 2017 and “attempting to reform a police department that doesn’t want reform.”

“I hope you continue to make this change somewhere in the world. I wish it was here,” Walker said. “I hope that some community somewhere where people who have suffered the same plight gets to benefit.”

While council never approved a formal discussion, (Councilor Lloyd Snook says he was concerned with the lack of ground rules), they all got their chance to chime in.

Councilor Michael Payne discussed the timing of the issue.

“At an absolute minimum the timing of this personnel decision has created a lot of doubt among community members’ minds,” he said.

Payne also shared his desire to ensure reform continues within CPD.

Meanwhile, Councilors Lloyd Snook, Heather Hill, and Vice-Mayor Sena Magill offered their opinions on the move, all while emphasizing they did not tell City Manager Chip Boyles what to do.

“I believe that given all of the facts, many of which haven’t been made public, many of which haven’t even been hinted at in this discussion, I believe it was a good decision as well,” Snook said.

“I feel that he talks to us, I feel he communicates with us, and fundamentally this is his decision and I am behind him on it, period,” Magill said.

Walker asked Hill if she’s “been influencing this process,” and Hill responded: “I have not influenced this process, I found out the same time as the rest of this council. Do I support this decision? I do.”

Boyles did not address Brackney’s firing at any time during the meeting.

Walker also shared a list of questions she has, including who approved the publication of the statement released on August 20 and what happened between the publication of that statement and the firing of Brackney. The August 20 statement refers to the city’s unattributed response to the Police Benevolent Survey.

Payne added that he wants to see specific plans to ensure reforms are not rolled back. He pointed to the work CPD has done with JADE, reporting data, and disciplinary action.

Copyright 2021 WVIR. All rights reserved.

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