I write in response to the letter to the editor “Hingeley shows up for right causes” published in The Daily Progress on Oct. 2.
I share the writer’s abhorrence toward those who brought racism and hate to our community in August 2017.
Based on available evidence and witnesses, the office of Albemarle County commonwealth’s attorney prosecuted violations of Virginia law occurring on University of Virginia Grounds on Aug. 11, 2017, including charges of assault and battery, malicious bodily injury by means of a caustic substance or agent, and illegal use of tear gas or phosgene substance. This office also successfully appealed a lower court decision to release on bond a prominent organizer of these events.
While the City of Charlottesville’s former commonwealth’s attorney distinguished the tiki torch marches that occurred in Charlottesville from those that occurred on UVa Grounds, I agree with his analysis concerning threshold deficiencies in the burning objects statute contained in the memorandum explaining the decision to decline prosecution for the May and October 2017 white-supremacist tiki torch marches in the City of Charlottesville. These deficiencies are recognized on pages 174-175 of the Heaphy Report, which recommends amending Virginia’s burning object statute to encompass open flames while changing the intent requirement under the statute, and in Del. Toscano’s proposal (which I strongly support) to codify these amendments in Virginia law.
A commonwealth’s attorney must bring cases consistent with the law, available evidence, and ethical obligations. Anything less would affront our values in a way those who brought hate to our community in August 2017 never could.