Prince William Supervisors Reject Renaming of Jeff-Davis Highway; Condemn Racist Groups

| October 4, 2017 | 1 Comment | News

Citizens begin to file out of the board room, once the once failed to receive a second. Many cried “Shame!” and called out individual board members for their inaction.

Prince William County Supervisors reject renaming Jefferson-Davis Memorial Highway, Tuesday evening, but agreed to a symbolic resolution to strongly condemn white supremacy and racist groups.

Supervisor Frank Principi (D) of the Woodbridge District brought forth a resolution to condemn white supremacy and change the name Jefferson-Davis Memorial Highway in Prince William County at the Oct. 3 Board of County Supervisors meeting.

He also wanted to rename the Stonewall Jackson Volunteer Fire Department and Stonewall Jackson high school and middle school in Manassas.

His motion did not receive a second. As a result, there was no vote on the agenda item.

The audience, the great majority of which were in support of the amendment, reacted with boos and cries, calling “shame! shame! shame!” and hurling insults at the supervisors. In response, Chairman Corey Stewart (R) asked everyone to clear the room.

After a recess, Supervisor Mary Nohe (R) of the Coles District presented his own resolution, one that reaffirms the board’s condemnation of white supremacist groups, racism, and acts of political violence.

“I am very sympathetic to most of the concerns that were raised here this evening,” said Nohe, adding that it was a difficult time for the nation.

He said he realizes that many other communities are considering renamings of streets and other significant markers of the Confederacy following the Charlottesville tragedy in August, but he wanted to focus on Prince William.

“I intentionally crafted this as a separate resolution…as our community values. How this community, people in Prince William County, feel about the division taking place in the country right now.”

According to his resolution, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors clearly denounce any person or group that promotes racial discrimination, division or inequality or uses violence to advance political means.

Nohe and the other Republican Supervisors said that while they would not rule out name changes in the future, they wanted to follow a slower process that would allow for more community discussion.

The  supervisors said they are in complete agreement about denouncing white supremacist groups, whether they called themselves n-o Nazis or the Alt Right.

“I did support a good amount of the condemnation language that was in Supervisor Principi’s resolution. Alt right, white supremacists, neo Nazis, any organization that proclaims the belief that one race is superior to another, that is offensive to me, and I believe that is offensive to most Americans,” said Supervisor Pete Candland (R) of Gainesville.

However, Candland was critical of the process by which Principi brought his motion forward, saying it was meant for “political opportunism,” and said the renaming of the highway could open a can of worms as so much of the names in Prince William have connections to either the Confederacy or slavery.

John Jenkins (Neabsco), the only other Democrat on the board, said he intended to second the motion for the purpose of discussion, but did not have a chance before the audience reacted.

After the recess, Chairman Corey Stewart invited the citizens to come back into the board room, but they refused.

Wednesday morning, the Park Service found that a statue of Stonewall Jackson at the Manassas Battlefield had been defaced.

In other areas of Northern Virginia, Jefferson-Davis Highway will be getting a name-change. After the tragedy in Charlottesville the Alexandria City Council voted to rename the road, and are asking the public to help find a name. The Fairfax County School Board decided to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School, named for a Confederate general.

In Prince William, School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers set up online crowd funding to raise money to rename Stonewall Jackson High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Manassas. Those changes have not been brought forth in an official resolution.

A large crowd gathered at the McCoart Building, Tuesday, advocating for the name change, but also hoping the supervisors to take a stand against white supremacy.

Today, on an online Indivisible site, many of progressives vocalized their disappointment that the supervisors were reluctant to even second the motion. Many of the same people have been outspoken and critical of Stewart’s campaign for Governor within the Republican Primary.

Chairman Stewart had made the preservation of confederate monuments paramount to his campaign. He spoke at a previous rally at the Lee monument in Charlottesville, one that did not turn violent. He also met with Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, before that rally was organized, and he posed in front of a Confederate flag, something Supervisor Nohe publicly admonished.

And after the tragedy in Charlottesville, Stewart made divisive statements, blaming both sides for the violence, and predicating that liberals would use the violence to further their political agenda.

Stewart did not comment on either Nohe’s or Principi’s resolution, but did vote in favor of Nohe’s resolution.

In presenting his resolution, Principi acknowledged Virginia’s complex history of being the state from which many Founding Fathers resided as well as Confederate Generals and it is also a slave state. He said Confederate names serve as a “constant reminder of bigotry and repression” and that the county should choose better people to “honor or memorialize”

“These names are haunting and they serve as a reminder of a time of great pain, great suffering and great loss…Very few issues are clear cut, very few issues are obvious” said Principi, but in this case he said “the decision is clear.”

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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  1. Pendragon says:

    The BOCS did the right thing. Frank Principi apparently wanted to bring trouble to our community. Frank, PWC is NOT Charlottesville!!!

    Shame on Frank Principi and shame on the rude bullying audience. Corey did right removing the crowd.

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