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Richmond internet personality charged with felony over ‘joke’ tweet

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VPM News File
Jimmie Lee Jarvis was arraigned in Henrico County General District Court on Friday.

Jimmie Lee Jarvis’ lawyer says the post was satire. Henrico County alleges it was a bomb threat.

A Richmond internet personality is facing felony bomb threat charges in Henrico County over a tweet.

Jimmie Lee Jarvis, a consultant and licensed private investigator, was arrested Thursday afternoon after the Henrico Fire Marshal's Office issued a warrant, according to court documents obtained by VPM News, a statement from the department and a press release from Jarvis’ legal defense. He was arraigned Friday morning in Henrico County General District Court.

Jarvis’ arrest comes after several right-wing news outlets also publicized his Sept. 22 social media post relating to Ngo: It featured an image of actor Jason Schwartzman carrying a box labeled “DYNAMITE” with the caption, “on my way to the andy ngo event!”

The image was sourced from the 1998 comedy film Rushmore, which is not about bombs or Virginia. The Post Millennial, a digital news outlet where Ngo is editor-at-large, ran a screengrab of the post with the headline, “Leader in Richmond Democrat Party group posted bomb threat against Andy Ngo Virginia talk.” Other conservative and right-wing news outlets followed, including Fox News.

Jarvis is listed as a donor to the Richmond City Democratic Committee on its website, but not as a member of its leadership committee. VPM News reached out to the Democratic Party of Virginia for comment, but did not hear back by publication time.

Who is Jimmie Lee Jarvis?

Jarvis, a Richmond City resident, is a local internet personality who uses the handle “JLJLovesRVA.” He is the owner and operator of Mission Control Research and Consulting, and is also a private investigator and freelance journalist.

Jarvis was one of the plaintiffs listed as a citizen journalist who received a portion of the 2023 settlement with Richmond Police Department over police actions taken during the summer 2020 protests, as reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Most recently, Jarvis was in the news earlier this year after outgoing state Sen. Joe Morrissey sued him for defamation in Petersburg following a social media post. That suit, according to the Progress-Index, was dismissed with prejudice in May. (Jarvis countersued Morrissey, which WRIC reported at the time.)

(Editor’s note: That RTD report was written by a current VPM News employee; a former VPM News employee was also named in the settlement.)

Wait, what happened?

Jarvis is accused of making a bomb threat on X — the app formerly known as Twitter — in connection with a twice-canceled speaking event featuring far-right media host Andy Ngo.

Ngo became known in conservative social media and influencer circles for his provocative writings and video recordings of protests. He had been invited to speak as part of an inaugural forum series.

The Virginia Council, a local branch of the D.C.-based Common Sense Society nonprofit, made several attempts to book venues in the Richmond region for its Virginia Forum. According to a Sept. 22 press release on its website, the Virginia Council did intend to hold the event after its first two planned locations were canceled — but would only provide updates to registered attendees.

Jarvis took to social media to comment in relation to the planned event; a comment which his attorney Tom Barbour described to VPM News as clearly satirical.

“'It’s important to understand that Jimmie did something that I think anyone might do, and that is he made a joke,” Barbour said. “He made a satirical tweet about a right-wing extremist group that was trying to have a meeting in Henrico County.”

Jarvis’ comment has led to a class 5 felony charge under Virginia Code “Threats to bomb or damage buildings.”

Did that event happen, then?

Well, yes. That mystery location ended up being Henrico’s Belmont Recreation Center, to the dismay of Henrico residents Shoshana Spiggle and Walter Nickerson. Both voiced their displeasure with the board of supervisors during the public comment period on Tuesday.

“I just don’t like that this bigoted and hateful ideology was welcomed into the county that I call home for over 30 years,” Nickerson said.

Spiggle also voiced concerns that Ngo was given preferential treatment and circumvented county policy in order to secure the venue, which is operated by Henrico County Recreation & Parks.

As County Attorney Andrew Newby told the board Tuesday, although Ngo was barred from two private venues —- the Commonwealth Club and the Westin Richmond — the county could not reject rental applicants no matter their viewpoint.

“It is very much a First Amendment issue. Again, the county cannot discriminate based on viewpoint,” Newby said. “We all hold ourselves to that oath and as a staff try to do that. This was a staff determination here that the event could be accommodated with the available public safety resources and available Henrico County facilities.”

Following his bond hearing in Henrico General District Court on Friday, Barbour shared his thoughts on the case as presented:

“We're going to litigate this as aggressively as possible under the law, which I hope is what the Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney's Office is going to be doing,” Barbour said. “They need to be searching for the truth, they need to be understanding that Jimmie is actually factually innocent of these charges.”

His defense attorney said these charges violate Jarvis’ constitutional right to free speech under the First Amendment. If they’re not dismissed, Barbour said, Jarvis’ legal defense will “ensure that any government actor acting under color of state law to further this constitutional violation will be held accountable in our civil court system.”

Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor and the Fire Marshal’s Office declined VPM News’ requests for comment on the pending charges. Jarvis’ next court date is set for Dec. 6.

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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