Some members of Alexandria's black community will meet next week with Patrick J. Holland, the Democratic nominee for the city sheriff, to discuss his possible involment in 1970 with a vigilante group during a racial crisis.
Holland, 30, who easily won this month's Democratic primary for sheriff and requested the meeting, said yesterday he never formed or participated in such a group.
Alexandria City Council minutes of a special meeting held June 3, 1970, state that Holland announced formation of the Alexandria Citizens Defense League. A story in The Washington Post the next day quoted Holland as saying, "It is with much regret that I announce the formation of the Alexandria Citizens Defense League." The article also quoted him as saying the group's members would "defend themselves and their property with their guns."
Holland said yesterday he never intended to form such a group, that he didn't recall saying that he would do so, and that if he did make the statement it was as "warning to them (Council members) that this could transpire in Alexandria."
There is no record that such a group was ever actually formed.
Next Wednesday's meeting is to be sponsored by a group called the Citizens Concerned Committee. Debbie Brown, one of the meeting's organizers, said plans are to question Holland closely about him role during the 1970 crisis and ask him what he plans to do if elected. Brown, an Urban League community organizer, emphasized that the Urban League is not involved in sponsoring the meeting.
The Alexandria Democratic Committee plans to meet with Holland July 11 to discuss his comments about the "Defense League.
The issue stems from May, 1970, when Robin, Gibson, a 19-year-old black youth, was shot to death in a 7-Eleven store in the Del Ray area of Alexandria by the store's assistant manager, who had accused Gibson of shoplifting a package of razor blades.
The shooting triggered hours of rock throwing and minor fires set by bands of black youths. The assistant store manager later pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to two years in prison and three more on probation.
At a special meeting June 3, 1970, the City Council declared a state of emergency and banned sale of firearms and other weapons. Holland appeared at the meeting to oppose the action.
He said at the time he had recently returned from serving in Vietnam, and was angry at what he felt was the Council's lack of leadership during the racial crisis.
"I left my emotions dictate what I said rather than my common sense," Holland said. He said he was "letting off steam."
Holland gave to a reporter yesterday a copy of what he said was the statement he read to the Council that night in 1970. It made no reference to a defense league.
In the statement asked Alexandria residents "to unite in a stand against acts of terrorism, lawlessness, and intimidation by those elements bent on causing an environment of destruction and morale decay within our community . . . Let us, the residents of Alexandria and our city officials, stand now and say to those from the outside and to those from within who intend to cause havoc and destruction throughout our community that you have gone too far and shall go no further . . ."