Almost a year after the Unite the Right rally descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, the city will hire the first black woman to serve as police chief.
RaShall M. Brackney, Ph.D. will become Charlottesville's first black woman police chief. She's set to take office on June 18, reports The Daily Progress. The Charlottesville City Council approved a measure put forth by City Manager Maurice Jones recommending Brackney's hiring.
She will continue the legacy started by first black chief Al Thomas who was in charge during last year's August 12 Unite the Right rally in Emancipation Park.
Thomas announced his retirement in December following scrutiny for his "slow-footed" response to the violence stemming from a large number of white nationalist groups and Antifa counter protesters. That violence hit its peak when 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed by terrorist James Alex Fields Jr. when he drove his sports car into a crowd of counter protesters.
"It's sad and I hope that no one loses the irony of the fact that a black man is being forced out of office because of a white supremacist rally. And for him to be the only one being made to fall on the sword, it's sickening. It's just not proper," activist Don Gathers told NBC 29 last year.
Thomas served as the city's top police officer for two years but worked in law enforcement for 27 years. He left behind a tough job for Brackney. She told residents Monday, May 21, she will rebuild residents' trust in the police by serving and listening to people's concerns.“I know Charlottesville has undergone a lot of trauma and turmoil, particularly in the last year. Know that I’m not here to add to your burden at all,” Brackney told the crowd at the start of Monday’s council meeting.
Jones has listed new initiatives such as a civilian review board and a plan to create new safety committees and training programs for police, emergency planning and implicit bias as a response to the Unite the Right Rally backlash.
“If anything, I’m here to see if there’s a way to move the conversation forward, particularly around policing, policing equity and narrowing the gap between the communities we serve and represent,” Brackney said.
In January, the city also made history by electing its first black female mayor Nikuyah Walker.