This is taken in its entirety from the VCDL newsletter I subscribe to.
1. Over 100 VCDL members fill Norfolk City Council chambers!
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,
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:
Gun-rights advocates stage protest at Norfolk council meeting
By HARRY MINIUM, The Virginian-Pilot
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
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
"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]
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
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
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.
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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