What’s Next for Tripp Lewis, Virginia Flagger?

As the Virginia Flaggers seek to recover from their recent humiliation (for example, Connie Chastain has increased her involvement by setting up a blog for the group), one name that hasn’t received much attention is Tripp Lewis. This amuses me, because Tripp loves publicity. For example, there is this film …

… which was shot by none other than Rob Walker, a featured player in the events of a few weeks ago.

Then there was this …

… which got Tripp Lewis on local television … and not for the first time.

Now, you’ll note from these videos that Tripp Lewis is very concerned about vandalism. He’s also very concerned about getting on television. Lately he’s been very happy to receive a lot of money for his legal defense fund.

And then Tripp tripped … or so we are led to believe. For, if Susan Hathaway is to be believed (and why would she not be?), it was Tripp Lewis who contacted her to share with her Rob Walker’s now-famous tale of tasering vandals at the Davis monument in Richmond, a story we now know to be untrue.

In the days that followed, Hathaway came under increasing criticism as various bloggers highlighted the shortcomings in the story and went about finding out the truth. She was slow to respond, although not so slow when it came to endorsing the efforts of Chastain to divert attention from the Flaggers’ folly. Eventually Hathaway, aided by Chastain, circulated a letter of apology in which she thanked those who had brought the truth to light (we thank her for that).

In the flurry that followed that letter as well as word that Walker had told Richmond police that the incident had never happened, one might have overlooked this statement by Hathaway:

On Thursday, May 9th, I was on my way back from the Stonewall Jackson Shrine at Guinea Station when I received a message from Va Flagger and friend, TriPp Lewis. He stated that Rob Walker, the VCU student who had been following the Va Flaggers for the past 6 months and filming our efforts for a documentary, had just called him to report that he had thwarted an attempted vandalism at the Jefferson Davis Statue on Monument Ave., on his way home from his final exam at VCU.

Shortly thereafter, I was phoned into a three way call, and Rob repeated the description of his story. As you can imagine, we were taken in by his dramatic and breathless account of the events. He even sent us these photos of the taser/club that was used at the scene. 

(no, we never did see “these photos,” but never mind.) UPDATE: According to several commenters, they are on Hathaway’s personal Facebook page. I don’t recall them being circulated, however.

It is the Lewis-Walker relationship that’s been left unexamined here, and some folks have overlooked the fact that it was Lewis who brought Walker’s tale to Hathaway’s attention. Without Lewis, there would have been no story, and it was Lewis who brought Walker into the Flagger camp (folks can protest all they want that he wasn’t a Flagger, just a Flagger follower and film maker, but the Flaggers embraced his work). People seem unwilling to ask questions of Lewis even as he takes in money from people looking to get him off the hook for his previous antics. Will the funds that remain now that a settlement’s been reach (reportedly t0 be used to by him another pair of sunglasses)? Will he appear on the dust jacket of Chastain’s next e-book?

Chastain has complained that critics have been too hard on Hathaway. Yet she’s also overlooked Lewis’s role in this whole affair, preferring to have Hathaway take all the criticism. This is unfair, and it is only fair to Hathaway that we remind everyone that it was Tripp Lewis who introduced the Flaggers to Walker; Lewis who made himself (and not the other Flaggers) the star of Walker’s video, Lewis (and not others) who chose to get arrested, Lewis (and not others) who benefits from a defense fund raised to help him evade the costs of his actions, and Lewis who got Hathaway to embrace Walker’s bogus story.

Lewis is quite a southern man to hide behind Hathaway. Chastain doesn’t call him out on it: so much for her interest in defending Hathaway. And so much for the integrity of the Flagger “movement” that its members try to conceal who was really responsible for the mess in which they find themselves as they struggle to regain credibility.

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8 thoughts on “What’s Next for Tripp Lewis, Virginia Flagger?

  1. If you look at Ms. Hathaway’s original post on her personal page you can see the pictures she was talking about: http://www.facebook.com/susan.f.hathaway.7/posts/10151658650249274

    I don’t think those pictures made it to any of the other posts of her apology on the other heritage pages.

    Of course this is just my opinion of how the vandalism incident went down, but: I think Lewis may have had a hand in coming up with the story with Walker, by trying to create some positive publicity about the ‘Flaggers’. When they realized that public police documents and 911 calls (or lack thereof) could easily discredit their whole story, then they had to backpedal and Susan printed her apology.

    I also find it kind of strange that Rob Walker is suddenly out of the picture as he is out of town in Norfolk for the whole summer. Norfolk isn’t that far away from Richmond, even with a two-hour delay on the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. They make it sound like he’s on the other side of the world.

    • Walker’s been thoroughly discredited, and the Flaggers would be wise to distance themselves from him. That would mean setting aside the film starring Tripp Lewis, however, and I sense Lewis’s desire for fame outweighs his commitment to preserving the reputation of the group. So long as the film is part of Flagger lore, so is Walker’s taser tale and Hathaway’s error. Of course, Chastain is busy keeping the story alive, and the Flaggers should understand that she’s a loose cannon.

      I think Hathaway’s a far better face for the Flaggers than Lewis. I don’t see any public apology from Lewis. I doubt we’ll see one from Walker, either, but for years to come his name will be linked to this tale in search engines, so he’ll find it hard to shake.

      Having been through that tunnel before, I know what you mean about the delay.

  2. I was thinking about Mr. Lewis’ unexamined role in this myself. For all we know he may have apologized to Ms. Hathaway privately, but you do point out that so much of his actions are designed for public consumption it would seem odd that he wouldn’t also issue a public apology to Ms. Hathaway. Perhaps he has done so on another forum?

    • Again, it’s Lewis who brought Walker to everyone else’s attention. It’s Lewis who was featured in Walker’s work. It’s Lewis who contacted Hathaway and vouched for Walker. It’s Lewis who is benefiting from a defense fund.

      And it’s Tripp Lewis who would like everyone to forget this.

      I’m sure that someone would notify me that Lewis had admitted his error elsewhere. Chastain served that function for Hathaway. Perhaps she’s composing Lewis’s apology for him right now, so she can post it on the Virginia Flagger blog she started. After all, Tripp Lewis is a southern man and Lewis and Walker are sweet southern boys, although I guess they can turn sour.

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