Roger Chesley

Roger Chesley

Longtime columnist and editorial writer Roger Chesley worked at the (Newport News) Daily Press and The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot from 1997 through 2018. He previously worked at newspapers in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Detroit. Reach him at [email protected]


Do you believe us now?

By: - May 28, 2021

“Do you believe us now?” That’s what Black people are saying across Virginia about the way people of color are stopped, sweated and searched by law-enforcement officers in the state. Often based on racial profiling. Often due to nothing more than a whim. First came the now-viral video of two Windsor patrol officers and their […]

A storm passes over the Capitol. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Sept. 11, 2018)

Virginia should jettison its special privileges for lawyer-lawmakers

By: - May 25, 2021

Billy Robinson Jr., the brilliant, late legislator-attorney, was the worst abuser of a state law that allows repeated delays if court dates conflict with time periods surrounding General Assembly sessions and committee meetings. News stories on the Norfolk Democrat — chronicling complaints from crime victims and prosecutors in cases Robinson handled — were plentiful during […]


The pride of Maggie Walker H.S., Norfolk State finally gets his due

By: - May 18, 2021

Bob Dandridge, a true son of Virginia, never strayed too far from the commonwealth — before, during or after his illustrious NBA career. That makes Sunday’s announcement that the 13-year veteran was selected, finally, to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame all the more special. The question is what took so long.  The smooth-shooting […]


Take it from a former fast-food worker, the minimum wage increase is way overdue

By: - May 5, 2021

Here’s a story for all the folks who thought Virginia shouldn’t have raised its minimum wage this month to $9.50 an hour, from the previous rate of $7.25. It’s the first increase in a dozen years in Virginia, which had followed the federal standard.  Yours truly entered the workforce back in high school, toiling at […]


Can training solve over-aggressive policing?

By: - April 29, 2021

Police officers in Windsor’s small, now-maligned department will receive training next month on best practices and de-escalation techniques during encounters with citizens, the executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police told me this week.  Dana Schrad said her organization helped set up the two-day training session, following the release of video into […]


‘Unnecessary opportunities for strife and use of force’: It’s time to re-evaluate police traffic stops

By: - April 14, 2021

The traffic stop by two Windsor police officers of an Army officer should never have become a viral video. The fact that it did, and that a federal lawsuit has been filed, means better training of officers is mandatory in law-enforcement departments across Virginia. Perhaps more importantly, the mindset of “compliance above all else” — […]


It was past time for the Virginia Board of Elections to crack down on lax candidates

By: - April 8, 2021

To hear some candidates tell it, a decision last week by the State Board of Elections is heavy-handed and reeks of political chicanery. The board’s move prevents a few Democratic Party challengers from getting on the primary ballot in contests for the House of Delegates this year.  The three-member board, these candidates claim, won’t provide […]


Fairness demands that Virginia’s neighbor earns statehood, despite Republican opposition

By: - April 1, 2021

Growing up in the nation’s capital, I always felt congresspeople considered themselves overseers of local residents. They weren’t benevolent ones, either. The plantation reference is harsh, I know. Yet it’s accurate, since predominantly Black officials from the District of Columbia were forced to go, hat in hand, for approval of local policies and budgets from […]


Virginia sets an example on voting rights

By: - March 24, 2021

Virginia is setting the pace for what a state should do to ensure a person’s race, color, or language aren’t barriers to exercise the ability to vote. It’s among the most cherished rights of citizenship in America.  Legislators in the General Assembly passed a bill — awaiting Gov. Ralph Northam’s expected signature — that, along […]


We can, and must, do more to protect women from deadly domestic violence

By: - March 18, 2021

If ever there were a case in which a known abuser of women had clearly telegraphed the intent to kill someone he’d dated, then Mark O’Leary would be Exhibit A. The 40-year-old felon now faces first-degree murder, felony firearm and other charges in the slaying of his estranged partner, Sammi Jo Burkhart, in Chesapeake in […]


Officials should have been more forthcoming on investigation into woman’s death after vaccination

By: - March 12, 2021

Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver assured me this week that the death of Drene Keyes of Gloucester, just a few hours after she got a COVID-19 vaccination, was properly investigated by the state — even if there wasn’t a full autopsy. “When a medical examiner takes on a case, it’s not an autopsy versus […]


Get your vaccine when you can

By: - March 3, 2021

I understand the wariness so many people harbor toward the new vaccines to fight the coronavirus. Some segments of the population, especially Black Americans, can point to a litany of egregious medical incidents over the decades, including sinister neglect, mistreatment and lack of consent for specific medical procedures. There could be questions about the speed […]