NEWS-Thrash and dash: Beating perps sport controversial attire
Following several weeks of uproar over what some called a racist dress code at a local restaurant banning white t-shirts and baggy clothes, two violent incidents around Charlottesville have drawn further attention to the controversial clothing.
On Friday night, March 30, at approximately 11pm, Hogwaller Ramblers singer Jamie Dyer had just arrived at the west end of the Mall and was walking east from Water Street to meet some friends. As he passed between the Omni and the Ice Park, Dyer says, he noticed a group of five or six teens on the Ice Park plaza to his right.
"I thought it was a bunch of kids walking down the street," he says. But he soon learned otherwise, as the group suddenly sprang toward him. He was knocked to the ground by three boys who, without a word, punched and kicked him in the head and ribs. The attack was over within seconds, and the group fled toward Water Street, leaving Dyer on the ground. He immediately reported the attack to police but could give only a limited description of his assailants: young black men in large white t-shirts and baggy jeans.
"It was a thrash and dash," says Dyer, who believes he has two cracked ribs and bruises on his head. On April 5, the Daily Progress reported another attack involving a white t-shirt clad assailant that occurred at the 7-Eleven on Hydraulic and Seminole Trail about 24 hours after the assault on Dyer. Police said that around 2:30am on Sunday, April 1, an armed assailant approached a man sitting in his truck and demanded money. The robber, wearing a "large white t-shirt," the fled in a vehicle.
Local restaurateurs believe that people wearing such clothes are likely to commit violent acts. Mike Rodi, owner of Rapture restaurant and R2 dance club, instituted a dress code three years ago banning items including baggy attire and white t-shirts after noticing people dressed in that style were involved in violent altercations.
"We've had people pull out weapons, mostly knives," said Rodi, who insisted the code was not to target blacks, but rather people of all races who "embrace this thug identity." And at Jaberwoke on the Corner, ground zero for the recent dress code hullabaloo [and subject of the Hook's March 29 cover story, "Dressing down"] co-owner Anderson McClure agreed with Rodi that it's the clothing, not the race, that presages trouble.
McClure eventually repealed the Jaberwoke code after hundreds of UVA students joined an online "Facebook" group called "Hoos Against Jaberwoke" and both the student council and the UVA chapter of the NAACP issued resolutions condemning the code for targeting blacks.
"Never has it been proven that banning people who wear baggy jeans prevents violence anywhere," said UVA student and NAACP member Sage Garner at an open meeting held at Jaberwoke on March 21. Garner and others argued that people should not be judged based on clothing alone.
Charlottesville Police Captain Chip Harding says he knows of no "white t-shirt gang" in the city, but he confirms that white t-shirts are a popular clothing choice for some local gang members. A fashion item, he says, is no reason to pass judgment on someone.
"If you ride around this time of year, you see a lot of jeans and t-shirts," Harding says. "You can't generalize."
Dyer, still shaken and bruised by his first altercation in nearly 30 years of living in Charlottesville, recalls the fatal stomping death of a man in front of Fat City (now Bizou) in 1990.
"That's why I consider myself lucky," he says.
Jamie Dyer at the scene of his assault. "It was a sneak attack," he says.
PHOTO BY COURTENEY STUART