From Matt de Ferranti <[email protected]>
Subject Arlington's Jail and the Virginia Senate
Date September 13, 2023 9:59 PM
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Dear Friends,

I promised to update you last week on the important County issues that I have been working on. On August 27th, Abonesh Woldegeorges died in the Arlington County jail. She was 73 years old and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police charged her with trespassing at Reagan National Airport, by all reports a charge that stemmed from Ms. Woldegeorges being homeless/without housing.
Washington Post Article on the Death in the Jail ([link removed])
Three things are true:
1. As a County Board Member who has a responsibility for the safety and welfare of all Arlingtonians and one who spoke out in February of 2022 about a death in the jail at that time, I have, must, and am acting to eliminate all preventable deaths;
2. The Sheriff has a critical role here and there is an ongoing investigation into the cause of death, so some parts of this matter cannot be discussed and are not directly my responsibility; and
3. We must act to address homelessness, mental health, and racial and criminal justice issues that will take time and sustained effort to make a difference on.

Post Opinion Piece on Homelessness ([link removed])
I also want to be clear on a few facts. First, I spoke out last year and included a number of items that I would and did follow up on. Latest county jail death prompts questions, pledge of oversight from County Board | ([link removed]) I did in fact follow up in the areas I pledged to. The Sheriff at that time, Beth Arthur, made a change in medical providers, one of the areas I identified. Second, I did and have followed up on resources for the public defender and magistrate's office. There is more to do on those issues, so I accept responsibility for following through on those specific issues more effectively. Third, the facts in this case are worth mentioning. The charging entity is the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and not the Arlington County Police Department. There are other facts that are covered in the articles and that will come to light that I cannot share
at this time because I have a legal obligation not to in the midst of an ongoing investigation.

All of that said, I accept responsibility to do more and do better. I am engaging in the work, as well as focusing on the significant number of other issues in front of the Board. Part of that means speaking on the issues involved, which I will do. First, though, I think it important to identify and consider solutions.

Before I close, I want to share with you a request. I am very mindful that Board work is my job. I also believe I must be able to do the Board work and make a difference on the politics that will have a tremendous impact on Arlington's future. Thus, the video and request below:

[link removed]
Watch this 30 second message from Russet Perry and join this fight

The Virginia Senate has a big impact on criminal justice and systemic racial justice issues that impact Arlington. For example, the only way Arlington will have a chance to change state law to put the police oversight board under the County Board's control, as opposed to the County Manager, is if there is a Democratic Senate. Funding for our schools is another very recent example. Without a Democratic Senate, we would have seen tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Virginians last week. The most important race, by far, in determining whether Democrats hold the Senate, is Russet Perry's race in Loudoun County. That race will have a big impact on Arlington's future next year.
Join Don Beyer here in Arlington for Choice, Justice, Climate, Gun Safety and the Virginia Senate ([link removed])
The importance of this race is why I am asking you to click above and come on September 21 when we raise the resources we need to win the Senate for Democratic ideals. Please come if you can. If you cannot, please consider contributing to Russet as I have committed to helping her to protect reproductive rights and the ideals we cherish here in Arlington in 2024.



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