What: Media conference with speakers from Virginia Organizing chapters around the Commonwealth
When: Tuesday, April 2 at 11 a.m.
Where: The Bell Tower, Capitol Grounds, Richmond, Va.
Richmond, Va. — Virginia Organizing will hold a media conference on April 2 at 11 a.m. at the Bell Tower on Capitol Grounds in Richmond to call on Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring to meet with anti-racist organizations. Virginia Organizing chapter leaders from Danville, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, and Newport News will discuss the list of actions they have recommended these government officials take to begin the work of understanding and dismantling systemic racism in the Commonwealth.
“We need to see concrete evidence of genuine commitment to racial justice,” Chairperson Del McWhorter said, “to confronting and righting the wrongs of the past, and to dismantling the institutional forms of white supremacy that still pervade our government and civic life. A good first step would be for these public servants to meet with our members to discuss ways we can work together on these goals.”
“I find it problematic that Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring haven’t met with us,” Danville leader and board member Ebony Guy added, “or made a stronger, more visible effort to address constituents in Virginia.”
Long time civil rights leader and Virginia Organizing board member Jay Johnson of Newport News will lead the media conference.
“Virginia Organizing wrote to Governor Northam weeks ago with definitive recommendations of actions he could take to begin redeeming himself with Virginia’s citizens,” Johnson said. “We hoped that he would give them serious consideration. While he has continued to fulfill his role as top administrator of the state, he has not worked as diligently to take on the commitment he made to rectify his past mistakes.
“There has been no response from the Governor. We are holding this media conference to share our thoughts with the public because we believe Virginians will agree that the recommendations included in our letter could help set Virginia on a path to become a model for the nation,” Johnson added.
Last month, Virginia Organizing called upon Governor Northam to work with his administration and members of the General Assembly to
- Go beyond “sensitivity training” to attend and require the cabinet and executive branch staff to attend a Dismantling Racism workshop.
- Suspend the Dillon Rule to allow localities to remove monuments that honor the Confederacy from public spaces, or simply decree that such monuments be removed.
- Stop the construction of a natural gas compressor station in the historic African-American community of Union Hill in Buckingham County to begin to address the glaring issue of environmental racism.
- Champion funding for restorative justice in our public schools (to help dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline that hurts so many of our children, especially African American boys, students with disabilities, and gender non-conforming girls).
- Fund and hire a police profiling data collections officer for the state police.
- Work with localities to fund and establish efficient and effective public transit systems connecting low-income communities and communities of color with job sites and educational and technical training sites.
- Work with public and private agencies to expand and upgrade affordable housing.
- Listen to and work with the Legislative Black Caucus in the General Assembly to identify and address any and all manifestations of racism and white supremacy in government.
- Conduct and make public a full audit of administrative appointments to reveal the racial, ethnic, and gender make-up of administrative positions at every level and redress any inequities that come to light.
- Work hard to meet the standards requiring a percentage of state contracts to be awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses.
- Fund and staff agencies to enroll all qualified Virginians in our newly expanded Medicaid program.
Virginia Organizing also called upon Attorney General Mark Herring to
- Attend and require all members of the Attorney General’s offices statewide to attend a Dismantling Racism workshop.
- Make good on his promise to Virginia Organizing to call together chiefs of police across the Commonwealth to work together to end racial profiling and police practices that fail to protect and often harm communities of color, members of sexual minorities, and people with disabilities.
- Support and work toward hiring a police profiling data collections officer for the state police.
To interview a spokesperson about this event, contact Rosemary Gould at 434-962-7261 or rosemary@virginia-organizing.