Every year there is a national day for communities to come together to promote community engagement, safer societies and closer relations with law enforcement. This day and it’s events are labeled National Night Out and it takes place on August 1st.
Our agency requested a booth at the local event this year taking place in the parking lot of the Target in North Stafford, Virginia. We simply wanted to take this opportunity, as other businesses do at this event, to get our name out there and let the public know what our mission is and how we operate.
Sadly. we were contacted yesterday by Darrell English of the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office (Phone #: (540) 658-4428) informing us that we were being denied a booth at this event. When asked why, Mr. English stated that he was not going to give us a reason and that he was simply calling to inform us of the denial.
Now, this event has been attended in the past by the Free-Lance Star, the major local newspaper for the Fredericksburg area. It seems the Stafford County Sheriff’s office is showing their favoritism and using their power to determine who is going to be labeled “PRESS” and who is not.
We have seen this issue before with our attempts to contact the Sheriff’s office’s press secretary to obtain information about stories we were trying to cover. We have never been given a call back for these requests, while the Fee-Lance Star has released information the next day regarding cases we attempted to inquire about.
We don’t believe the Sheriff’s office should be able to manipulate the local market, yet they have in many different ways, along with the Commonwealth’s attorney’s office for years. Whether is was using the CA’s office’s meal budget to force a local business owner to not show support for the rival candidate of the current Commonwealth’s Attorney, to using arrests to control opposition for politicians. We will explore that road at a later date.
Regardless of a booth or not, we will be there to cover the event and still pass out our T-Shirts and Business cards. They may think they can silence us, but to date they have failed at every turn. From falsely arresting myself to blocking myself and other’s from commenting on their facebook. What they seem to fail to realize is that their attempts to silence free speech does nothing but bolster people’s interest in those expressing their rights.
We will keep you all up-to-date on the situation as it progresses. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to like, share and follow us on facebook.