This is something that had to be done.
It's been two years since a gray 2010 Dodge Challenger plowed through a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more. The driver, James Fields, Jr., has since been sentenced to life in prison plus an additional 419 years, though he is now appealing the state convictions. Very inconveniently, to say the least, the Charlottesville Police Department later added a 2017 Dodge Challenger to its fleet, but no longer. In an official press release, the CPD has confirmed it removed the last Challenger in its fleet and will dispose of the vehicle by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2020.
"This police vehicle was purchased before the chief and I joined City staff," said City Manager Tarron Richardson in an official statement. "We felt it was appropriate to review the matter after questions were raised on social media and by our community. This is clearly a reminder for many of the Summer of Hate and the attack, and we believe removing it from our fleet is in the best interests of the community."
Turns out the police department purchased the used 2017 Challenger, which featured visual similarities to Fields' car, for around $21,000 on January 19, 2018, about five months after the attack. Why was this done? Because the funds had been allocated months before the attack happened. Upon taking delivery, the Challenger received unique graphics for the Special Olympics Torch Run in an effort to help raise money.
However, community residents quickly began questioning the use of the vehicle on social media, feeling it's too strongly associated with the all too recent tragedy.
"The Charlottesville Police Department remains committed to assisting Special Olympics Virginia to help raise money to support children and adults with intellectual disabilities in our community," added Police Chief RaShall Brackney.