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Thread: VA - Lenny Harris (Community Activist/Volunteer), 53, Alexandria, 21 Sept 2011

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    VA - Lenny Harris (Community Activist/Volunteer), 53, Alexandria, 21 Sept 2011

    From the City of Alexandria (bbm):

    Alexandria Police Seek Public’s Help in Locating Missing Person

    Alexandria Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a man who was reported missing on September 21, 2011. Lenwood “Lenny” Harris, 53, was last seen around 9:00 P.M. at the Charles Houston Recreation Center in the Old Town area of Alexandria. He was driving a 1994 light blue Toyota Corolla bearing a Virginia license plate: XKG-8385. He is believed to be endangered. His cell phone was recovered Thursday on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and he failed to show up for a presentation at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center.

    He is described as 6’1”, 210 pounds and has dark hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a gray sweat top and gray sweat pants.

    Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Lenwood “Lenny” Harris is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Section of the Alexandria Police Department at 703.746.4711 or the non-emergency number at 703.838.4444.



    http://alexandriava.gov/police/info/....aspx?id=52568
    Last edited by Kimster; 01-29-2012 at 08:02 PM. Reason: prefix
    Fly high and free, Jhessye ~

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    Lenny is apparently very active in our community. A friend of mine on several city boards first alerted me about him being missing. She described him as a "tireless community volunteer."

    Here are some other references about his community involvement:

    “Nobody wants to say ‘gentrification’,” said Lenny Harris, a 48-year resident of Alexandria who ran for city council last year. “But it has to be mentioned.”

    http://www.alextimes.com/news/2008/f...oing-the-berg/
    “We as a community have been sitting behind the wheel numb,” said Lenny Harris, the community organizer who planned last night’s meeting. “We as a community need to stop being reactive and start being proactive. We have to stop waiting for other people to tell us how to treat our community and raise our kids.

    “There’s nothing wrong with us standing on the corner discussing sports, family and friends. That’s part of our culture and you can’t take away our culture... We must come out of this meeting with one or two associations to protect ourselves, our communities,” Harris said.


    Lenny Harris of the Alexandria Consortium speaks at the community meeting he organized. (Photo: Alex Hampl)

    http://www.alexandrianews.org/2011/0...unity-meeting/
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    Another article:

    Police: local activist missing

    City police say noted community activist and longtime resident Lenwood “Lenny” Harris has been missing since Wednesday and is believed to be in danger.

    More:

    http://www.alextimes.com/news/2011/s...ivist-missing/
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    Here's a bit more - it sounds very suspicious(bbm):

    Harris, 53, was last seen at the Charles Houston Recreation Center about 9 p.m. His older brother, Sherman, said Harris took a call from an unknown individual about that time and left to meet with the caller.

    When he didn’t return home by 7:30 the next morning, the family realized something was wrong. It’s not like him to disappear without letting anyone know, Sherman said. Authorities found his cell phone on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge later in the day.

    ........

    Officials won’t describe the nature or the severity of the danger Harris faces – it’s part of the ongoing investigation, said police department spokeswoman Ashley Hildebrandt. Sherman likewise declined to go into specifics. He’s optimistic they will find his brother alive, but fears the worst.

    “We know he’s in danger, we don’t know if they’ve already killed him. We’re just praying that somebody has seen him and they haven’t killed him,” Sherman said. “I just believe that he’s still alive… The only way I‘m going to believe he’s dead is if the police tell me and I see his body.”

    http://www.alextimes.com/news/2011/s...ivist-missing/
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    I got more emails. Lenny is a close personal friend of several of our neighbors and friends. Praying for a safe return but worried....

    Just crossed the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and couldn't help but scan the river, even though I think the phone on the bridge is either a setup (red herring) or someone threw it towards the river from a vehicle but it didn't make it all the way.
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    This is so sad and scary. Where is Lenny??

    I am surprised that here isn't more media attention on this.
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    I am wondering who the phone call was from? Did he tell anyone where he was headed?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoopster View Post
    This is so sad and scary. Where is Lenny??

    I am surprised that here isn't more media attention on this.
    Me, too... If the Washington Post would pick it up, that would really help. MOO
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    Quote Originally Posted by shefner View Post
    I am wondering who the phone call was from? Did he tell anyone where he was headed?
    My guess is that LE knows. I don't know him (never heard of him before now, to the best of my knowledge) but it seems that he was involved in some recent local political stuff. I'd hate to think that someone would harm him b/c of politics, but then again, there is sometimes money involved in some developmental deals - and standing in the way could be very harmful. My own family received numerous threats when my dad stood up to local city/county officials (not here, but where I grew up) regarding development/industry that would be a health hazard. He and a group of folks succeeded in running off the new development, but it cost a lot in terms of threats, sleepless nights, business, etc.

    I am not saying that is what is going on here - I have not heard that. I haven't heard any theories at all, actually. I'm just thinking out loud of the various possibilities.

    bbm

    Though Harris has long been a fixture in Alexandria, the longtime resident, husband and father garnered attention during a community dispute between Chatham Square residents and their neighbors earlier in the year. Harris led a community meeting in response to allegations crime was on the rise in the neighborhood.

    http://www.alextimes.com/news/2011/s...ivist-missing/
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    Here is a description of the vehicle (and a picture of one I found online - NOT his exact vehicle):

    Harris was driving a 1994 light blue Toyota Corolla with Virginia license plate XKG-8385.

    http://oldtownalexandria.patch.com/a...ng-missing-man

    http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:A...pgNuj9X6zqHnwe
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    Appears to be a very nice man who is involved in his community. Praying for his safe return to his family..
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    Here's a news video with interviews with family members. It also says that his wife is the one who tracked his cell phone to the Wilson bridge using her computer. Seems like a very nice family.

    I have no doubt that this man is in danger - I hope and pray he is found safe...

    http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/lo...130483913.html
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    I hope the family is getting some good help from LE - his poor wife shouldn't have to be doing the tracking by herself (though maybe they are like my husband and I, we both run google latitude on our phones so we can each see where the other is if we need to).

    And yes, you'd think a well known community activist would garner some more coverage in the metro DC press?!

    So sorry to hear your family received threats in the past, belimom. I think its pretty well known that in the northeast US there are often some shady doings in development deals, especially the bigger ones. I hope this isn't the case with Mr Harris, that maybe in speaking out he angered the wrong people. So sad that trying to help your community can put a person in danger!
    “Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all." -Abp Oscar Romero

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    Alexandria, VA is probably the worst place in America for someone concerned about their community or country to be outspoken. Years ago when I lived in Nashville, federal agents contacted me to come to Alexandria, VA because I was too outspoken on various websites regarding my pessimism and opposition regarding the invasion of Iraq. Without going into detail, the meeting they were requesting sounded shady at best so I moved to northeast Asia, where I currently live and work.

    I'm not saying the government did something to Lenny, but it can't be ruled out. I would be interested in reading more about his activism. For example, if he was blaming the heroin problem in the black community on the federal government or on our war in Afghanistan, maybe he stepped on some of the wrong toes and paid the ultimate price.

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    MLE, that is very interesting. Are you familiar with the case of Nancy Dunning - the sheriff's wife in Alexandria who was shot/killed in her home? No one ever arrested. She was also very involved in the community, as is Lenny. Some of the same circles of friends and causes.

    Nancy's thread:

    [ame="http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=75302"]Nancy Dunning (sherriff's wife) found murdered in her home (2003) - Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community[/ame]
    Last edited by belimom; 09-25-2011 at 12:42 AM.
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    Glad to see Lenny getting the spotlight!

    I've been doing a little reading on the Chatham dispute, and the newer "Berg" neighborhood plan, and getting angry. It sounds like the people who were in public housing were treated like objects - many shipped off to other locations to make way for a more upper class development. Belimom maybe as a local you can shed a bit more light on the ongoing situation, and give a bigger picture? Maybe understanding the whole thing a bit better might shed some more light on what happened to Lenny, especially since there is little else to go on out there in the news?
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    I am familiar with the Chatham Square issues but haven't been following it recently.

    The 'before' scene, to the best of my recollection: spacious HUD development. Nice-sized yards, 2-story row-house type of housing. I always thought it was nice to see public housing with so much green space, etc.

    When I saw the signs being posted on the sidewalks there of the "new" development, I was outraged that many of these residents would be displaced. I called my friend "Lisa" (who lives a block away from there) and she said that she had attended some meetings and that no one would be displaced -- that the new condos would be on the periphery and that new public housing units would be built in the interior. I sarcastically replied that they must be trying to 'hide' these minority folks and were giving the primo spots to the other folks. The low-income housing units would be apartment-style, not town-house style. Smaller. So much for the spacious yards, with cookouts and children running around playing. I have to admit, these were my own inferences, and I do not know what the finished product has turned out like, other than the fancy $800,000+ condos that I now see from the street.

    Since then, the owners of the new upper scale units have complained about crime. I personally do not think that crime is that bad in the area, nor was it before. There are very few areas of the City of Alexandria that are really that dangerous.

    Here's the issue: during the real estate boom of the early/mid 2000s, many houses/condos/apartments that were listed for sale were getting contracts before the end of the 1st of day of being listed. It was crazy. By the time you went to an open house, you could forget it - there were surely multiple contracts with escalation clauses driving prices much higher than asking price. That's when so many of these new developments popped up. And that's when new folks came to town who had not lived "in the city" before. They wanted to be in a nice place, close to the Metro (subway), close to work, close to Old Town, etc. They gave little thought to the multicultural, mixed SES environment that the City of Alexandria has. It's not uncommon to find million-dollar homes on the same block as HUD developments. But when "new" folks come in, they're not used to this and it makes them nervous. So the crime rate to them is relatively high, compared to where they must have been before (gated community, or whatever).

    These folks moved into some of these places, thinking that eventually, the lower income areas would all be bulldozed one day, if they just waited long enough. But that's not happening to the extent that they would like. There are too many folks in Alexandria who support these HUD developments and affordable housing. It's what we love so much about Alexandria. These low-income housing are people's homes, but the developers see prime real estate and $$$$$$$$ signs. It is changing and has already changed somewhat, with many folks cashing out. The new buyers are then building McMansions where there used to be a normal house. So, yes, it is changing. And these new folks don't want to live in an urban environment as it currently exists - they are trying to recreate suburbia.

    This is just my opinion and my own personal take on the situation.

    (ETA: I am not saying that Lenny Harris' disappearance has anything to do with the above. It may or may not.)
    Last edited by belimom; 09-25-2011 at 11:57 AM.
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    Prayer vigil today (Sunday) at 5:00pm:

    Attached Images Attached Images
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    His wife traced his cell phone. Police or his wife knows who contacted him, who was the last person to call him before he left that day.
    So, police are probably very sure of who caused his disappearance and why.

    I just hope they find him, alive and well.
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    Here is a news video of the prayer vigil last night. If you watch it, you can sense the type of man he is and how many people admire him and his work with/for the community:

    Alexandria Community Activist Missing

    Family and friends gathered in Alexandria Sunday night to pray for the return of Lenny Harris, after he we went missing last week.

    http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/lo...t-Missing.html
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    I was hoping to see good news when I came to this thread today. praying he will be found safe...and soon.

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    I feel so terribly for Larry's wife and family! Praying he comes home safely

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    Haven't really found anything new, other than reporting on the vigil. I wonder at the lack of coverage - are they afraid it might jeopardize his safety if they say too much?

    Belimom thanks for a great explanation of the neighborhood issues. I never understand people who move to the city and then try to make it suburban. City life is so different than suburban, and you have to take it's quirks and downsides with all the benefits. You can't barge in and make people who have been there for generations all change their lives to make YOU comfortable! (general 'you', not you personally! )

    Poor Lenny. What a tremendous loss his voice would be for the community.
    Last edited by Gardenlady; 09-26-2011 at 04:39 PM. Reason: Typos... Cursed auto-correct
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