Media Contact
Brian Wheeler
Director of Communications
February 11, 2020
UPDATE as of 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 11, 2020

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - The Charlottesville Police Department has made an arrest in the theft of the bronze cast slave auction block plaque stolen on February 6, 2020 from Court Square. Richard H. Allan, III (74) was arrested at his Albemarle County studio at 4 p.m. without incident. Allan has been charged with two felonies: grand larceny and possession of burglarious tools. Allan is currently being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail pending a bail review. 

Although an arrest has been made in this case, the Charlottesville Police Department continues to investigate the full extent of this crime to determine if additional charges are warranted or other individuals may be involved. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Detective A. Blank at (434) 970-3280 or Crime Stoppers at (434) 977-4000. A reward of up to $1,000 is available through Crime Stoppers for additional information.
UPDATE as of 4:30 p.m., Monday, February 10, 2020

The City’s missing slave auction block plaque remains an active investigation by the Charlottesville Police Department.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Charlottesville Police Department at 434-970-3280 or Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000. A reward of up to $1,000 is available for information leading to an arrest.

The City's initial February 6, 2020 media release is below.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - On February 6, 2020, at approximately 9 a.m., the Charlottesville Police Department was notified by a local media outlet that a historical slave auction plaque in Court Square was missing. Charlottesville Police Department officers responded soon after to file a report for a larceny. 

Officers determined a bronze slave auction plaque in the bricks had been removed. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that “1619” was inscribed on a light pole with what appears to be dirt from beneath the location of the marker, similar to recent vandalism cases in city-owned parks.

It is unknown at this time whether the plaque was taken for protection, or if it was stolen, however, this marker is of great value to the Charlottesville community, and CPD will work vigorously to locate it and return it to the City’s possession, and to locate the individual(s) responsible. 
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Charlottesville Police Department at 434-970-3280 or Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000. A reward of up to $1,000 is available for information leading to an arrest.

Statement from City Manager Tarron Richardson

The City is very disappointed that a bronze historic plaque in Court Square related to the slave auction block appears to have been stolen from its location in a city sidewalk. This is one of two memorials to the slave auction block at that location. The missing plaque was located in the sidewalk at the east corner of Park Street and East Jefferson Street.

The City’s Historic Resources Committee has been discussing broader community engagement related to these memorials including changes to the black granite marker on the wall to add more historical context. That marker's mount was compromised and was removed this morning by the building’s tenants for safekeeping.

The replacement and augmentation of the marker was among the recommendations in the December 2016 report from the City’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces. Draft language reviewed by the Historic Resources Committee for new wall markers seeks to more fully address the history of slavery in Charlottesville and to explain that humans were auctioned at locations throughout the square, not just adjacent to the “Number Nothing” building.

The City had planned to include the marker as part of a Downtown Parks, Phase I Interim Master Plan. That RFP was cancelled in 2018. As recently as January 17, 2020, the majority of the Historic Resources Committee expressed opposition to removing the existing plaque and marker until there was agreement on the next steps.

From the December 2016 report by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces

Court Square Slave Auction Block


The plaque memorializing one of several slave auction blocks around the Court Square area is located at a building labeled “Number Nothing.” This building was erected as a mercantile store in the 1820s. A stone block that once sat outside the building’s southwest corner was used for auctioning both goods and people until slavery was abolished in 1865. Slave auctions frequently took place on plantations, but enslaved people were sometimes traded in town on court days, when auctions for many types of goods were sold at auction houses or in front of public buildings. It was common to sell people at the Courthouse to settle debts owed to Albemarle County and for estate probates. Other locations, such as a tree stump near the court, functioned as auction blocks.

The slave auction block was memorialized with a building-mounted plaque and a plaque set into the sidewalk near the Number Nothing building. Today, the plaque is virtually illegible.

Preferred Option

Concept—the commission voted unanimously to support a two-phased process for interpreting the slave auction block and memorializing those who were enslaved in the Charlottesville area: first, to install a proper, visible historic marker to replace the current illegible marker, and second, to commission a new memorial through a competitive RFP process. The commission suggests that the memorial be located on or near Court Square.
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City Council Vision: To be one community filled with opportunity
Mission : We provide services that promote equity and an excellent quality of life in our community

Goal 1: An Inclusive Community of Self-sufficient Residents
Goal 2: A Healthy and Safe City
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Goal 5: A Well-managed and Responsive Organization
Sent by the City of Charlottesville Office of Communications, 605 E. Main St. Charlottesville, VA 22902
Brian Wheeler, Director of Communications
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