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 …
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.