The following statement from Arlington School Board member James Lander, who is up for reelection and being challenged by two other Democrats (Monique O’Grady and Maura McMahon), is in response to this video from yesterday, when Lander said:
“if all that education, if [UVA lacrosse player Yeardley Love, murdered by her former boyfriend George Huguely] wasn’t strong enough or educated enough to remove herself from a violent relationship then we have failed her as a society. Because if you are the smartest person with books but you can’t apply the knowledge then what good is it? I told my daughter when she went away to college, I want you to do well in the classroom but I also want you being smart enough not to get in the car when someone’s been drinking; be able to know when this is a dangerous situation and you need to step back.”
Here’s James Landers’ statement:
I sincerely apologize for my comments this morning during my radio interview on Arlington in the Morning. My words about the terrible tragedy that befell UVA student Yeardley Love were insensitive and inappropriate and do not reflect the realities faced by victims of domestic violence.
I made a terrible communication mistake and I want to set the record straight. What I said does not reflect my beliefs, values, or most importantly my heart. I know that Ms. Love was not the victim of poor choices or personal failings; she was the victim of a horrendous crime and her murderer is solely to blame.
Victims of domestic violence need our protection and support.
Moving forward I pledge to get involved with local organizations, such as Doorways for Women and Families to become better educated on the challenges of responding to the crisis of domestic violence. I know, that after this work I will be in a stronger position to ensure that the school system focuses appropriate attention on providing all of our young men and women with the tools they need to develop healthy relationships and be vigilant about their mental health. Arlington parents should expect no less from their school board members and APS.
Also see Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol’s statement, below, withdrawing her endorsement from Lander. I think she nails it and 100% agree with her on this.
I’ve spoken with James about his remarks on WERA this morning regarding Yeardley Love, and I appreciated his openness to hearing from me why his comments are so damaging to survivors of domestic violence and those working to end violence in our community. He is also open to continuing to be educated on the dynamics of intimate partner violence in Arlington, including further conversations with leaders at Doorways and a tour of the Revive Counseling Center for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. Based on my collaboration with James on a variety of County and Schools topics, I know him to be open to dialogue and growth. I hope and believe he will come to a better understanding of this issue.
That said, given these comments, I cannot continue to support James’ reelection campaign. When it comes to domestic violence, misconceptions and stigma can literally be life-threatening, making it harder for survivors to seek help. Working with agency, nonprofit and community leaders through Project PEACE, I know that families and young people throughout our community experience domestic violence, unsafe dating relationships and intimate partner violence. They deserve, and need, to know that they are supported and respected by their community. This issue is simply too important, and the stakes are too high, for me to equivocate when I say that these comments are unacceptable.
Arlingtonians experiencing domestic violence should know that they are not alone, and can reach help 24/7 by calling 703-237-0881.