Rocky Mount police officers arrested, COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise, LaRock defends ‘colored community’ remark, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• Federal authorities arrested the two Rocky Mount police officers who shared selfies of themselves inside the U.S. Capitol during the pro-Trump riot last week. They are charged with entering a restricted building without authority and knowingly engaging in conduct that disrupts government business. At their arraignment, a judge declined a prosecutor’s request that they be subject to GPS tracking, releasing them without bond but requiring them to surrender any guns.—Roanoke Times

• “A man who was photographed wearing a sweatshirt that read ‘Camp Auschwitz’ while inside the Capitol last week was arrested in Newport News, Va., on Wednesday morning in connection to the Capitol riot, according to two law enforcement officials.”—New York Times

• The number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in Virginia continues to rise in all regions of the state. Northam is scheduled to give an update on the state’s pandemic response today.—Roanoke Times

• Virginia has distributed nearly a million COVID-19 vaccines, but still lags compared to other states when it comes to the percentage of total shots available that have been administered.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• In his annual State of the Commonwealth address, Gov. Ralph Northam urged lawmakers to abolish the death penalty and support a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to people convicted of felonies. “If we want people to return to their communities and participate in society, we need to welcome them back fully,” he said.—Washington Post

• Northam said higher-than-anticipated tax revenues means a planned 2 percent bonus for public school teachers could be converted into a permanent pay raise.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• This year’s legislative session began with a tribute to deceased Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Russell. “He was not just a cattle farmer down there in Moccasin,” said Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City. “He loved and considered the soil of Southwest Virginia as sacred.”—Roanoke Times

• Family members of two mentally ill men who killed themselves in back-to-back suicides at a Hanover County shooting range are pushing for state laws requiring businesses to conduct a background check before renting someone a gun.—NBC12

• Housing advocates hope to make some pandemic-era eviction protections permanent, including a requirement that large landlords offer a payment plan to tenants before pursuing eviction.—WHRO

• Facing intensifying criticism for his defense of the pro-Trump mob that invaded the U.S. Capitol, Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, said in an email that his critics should focus on the “colored community” instead. He defended the remark in an interview. “If my saying that makes me guilty of saying something racist, call me old-fashioned, but nobody sent me the memo. No slight intended.”—Associated Press

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