Sudley protest Tuesday

A group of protestors moving toward Interstate 66 along Sudley Road in May. Photo by Alfredo Panameno/Sky's the Limit Media

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors will create the county’s first commission on racial and social justice.

The commission, approved by the board Tuesday, will be tasked with delivering a report that examines “the state of racial and social justice for people of color” in the county and making recommendations to the county government. The commission’s initial focus will be on policing, the “provision of government services” and public education.

Raul Torres, the director of the county’s Human Rights Commission, initially recommended that a “task force” spend the next year working on the report and action items for the board, but Woodbridge District Supervisor Margaret Franklin argued that one year wouldn’t be enough time and that a commission’s work should continue beyond the initial report.

Her amendment to turn the task force into a standing commission passed 5-3 along partisan lines, as did the vote on the resolution at large. Democrats supported the amendment and resolution, while Republicans opposed them. In the first year, the commission would not add any expense to the county’s budget because existing county staff would be reassigned to it.

“I don’t think a year is realistic in dealing with a lot of these issues,” Franklin said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The idea for the task force – which will include representatives from the school division, county police and the Human Rights Commission – was originally a response to the protests across the county and country following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May.

Democrats on the board argued that the commission would not target the county’s police force, but instead would work collaboratively to improve policing in the county and the department’s relationship with minority communities.

“This permeates our whole county, our whole society, our whole country, and it’s not going to go away in a year,” said Board Chair Ann Wheeler. “This is going to be an ongoing issue that we’re going to have to address and deal with and talk about to change our county.”

Republican Supervisors Pete Candland (Gainesville District), Jeanine Lawson (Brentsville) and Yesli Vega (Coles) said that the commission would be redundant because the Human Rights Commission is already tasked with investigating instances of racial discrimination by county government.

Candland questioned whether racial injustice was even an issue in the county, asking Democrats to point to specific examples of documented bias, to which Neabsco District Supervisor Victor Angry replied that he himself had been profiled by Prince William County police.

“How many times has the county government been successfully sued on racial discrimination? The answer is zero,” Laswon said. “I don’t think we have this need to create a whole new commission when we’ve got lots of measures in place that seem to be working effectively given the statistics.”

But Angry said that the county needs a commission that would take a more holistic look at county government and social injustice, as opposed to the reactive nature of the Human Rights Commission.

“There are potentially things set up, systems in place, that we feel need looking into, drilling down in to see what’s going on,” he said.

According to the staff report, the commission will “examine the state of racial and social justice in Prince William County,” explore best practices from other jurisdictions and conduct “a series of dialogues about racial justice within the community, other local governments, and other agencies and organizations.”

“The information collected will serve as equitable tools that will address the equity issues of who benefits, who is burdened, and who participates in the planning of our policies, programs, and services,” the report reads.

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

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Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

(22) comments

Lynne June

This is another knee-jerk political reaction to current events. If you haven’t seen this before, you haven’t lived long enough. I’m sick of people talking about race and ethnicity. I’m sick of the word “diversity.” Why can’t people quit focusing on race, culture, and differences and just focus on people as individuals. Where’s the Golden Rule, or do people not remember this? We don’t need a commission.

Halyork

Clown world never ends...what a unserious society and culture.

Kathy10

Maybe we could fund this with a voluntary donation added to your property taxes. Anyone who thinks this is important can pay what they want. Then those doing the study can be paid what the citizens think the study is worth.

Mike Vasquez

As a person of color (Latino, not that Latinx b­ullshit), I find this to be a complete waste of time. I'm not sure why this is necessary, I don't feel like I'm at risk or in danger during a police encounter during a traffic stop the few times it has happened. I feel like this is pandering by some white people on the left hoping to look like super heroes to minorities when in reality, this skewed view of police as racist, ready-to-pounce predators is completely false, especially with our great and diverse PWCPD.

RobS

Thanks for sharing. What's your thoughts on the recent change that allows the jail to not cooperate with ICE? My thought: ICE doesn't need to be called for traffic stops and silly minor things. But when the offender has multiple felonies and they find themselves back in jail, I start to wonder about the wisdom of just releasing them.

Mike Vasquez

Same thoughts here. It's a big mistake, solely done for political points but the citizens of the community are the ones that suffer. We should do whatever we can to get criminals out of our community especially if they're here illegally. While every illegal in our country aren't criminals, a sizable percentage of them are. And what they bring with them are criminal activities, extorsion of local immigrant owned businesses and felonious crimes committed on innocent people.

Bill Rio

Don't worry about InsideCommentor, guaranteed to be the whitest, richest person who posts on here.

Henry Howell

I'm honest to God not white I'm South Asian American I'd post my mug here but I don't trust the crazies on this site.

Henry Howell

Virtual brownface isn't cool man.

Mike Vasquez

Salvadoran but you don't have to believe me. Not every Latino supports Democratic policies regardless of what the news tells you. The longer people have lived here the more conservative they lean, especially with a large number of us being Catholic.

Henry Howell

You can say whatever you want, and you talk like a 70 year old white man, by the way if you're actually Salvadorian* you'd know a lot are Pentecostal as well.

Kathy10

Franklin’s friends and a few race huskers will get a nice paycheck from the PWC property owners. In five years nothing will change but we will have a website and a bunch of reports and white papers.

fake_journalist

Great point just a way to funnel tax money through a few race huskers as go between back into Franklin and Bailey’s pockets.

Henry Howell

I'm just shaking my head at the ignorance of this comment and lack of common sense displayed here by Kathy10.

fake_journalist

Let me tell you how this is going to end up playing out. The commission is going to recommend raising taxes for more special programs and defunding the police at the same time. That and the coming influx of illegal gangbangers into the county due to the democrats turning the sanctuary county, crime will soar and property values will fall which will mean taxes being raised even more to make up the difference.

Henry Howell

This is just delusional crazy talk by Mr. fake journalist here. The goal of this is to study hate crimes not to raise taxes, this is also very cost effective and saves money in the long run by promoting better policy community relations. No one on the BOCS not one supports defunding the police, that is just Fox News talk.

yourenotthebossofme

Study hate crimes, eh? Here are some places to start:

-

http://www.fakehatecrimes.org/

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https://www.fakehatemap.com/

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https://quillette.com/2019/01/25/how-real-is-systemic-racism-today/

John Dutko

How bout you provide government and academic sources instead of fringe weirdo GoDaddy websites?

https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/facts-and-statistics

https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/hate-crimes-case-examples

https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/resources

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327830896_Institutional_racism_Perspectives_on_the_department_of_justice's_investigation_of_the_ferguson_police_department

https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=45004

Start there.

John Dutko

When, in American history, has taxes been raised on declining property value?

yourenotthebossofme

Here's one time; wouldn't be hard to find more.

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https://taxfoundation.org/property-tax-revenue-increased-property-values-fell

John Dutko

Ok, provide more.

However, find information that isn't an aberration like the 2008 Recession. That is not a good baseline.

Also, this is an interesting bit from the article you posted:

"In addition to the ease of raising rates, lagged or incorrect assessment is a second reason that property tax revenues continued to increase in FY 2008 even as the market value of property dropped. Many homeowners were undoubtedly paying property taxes on an assessed value that was higher than the property’s true value, which might have occurred because assessors did not perceive how quickly market values were falling or because the local government does not assess every year.

When the fiscal 2009 data are published, we are likely to see that local governments, and state governments in those states that levy property taxes, have also raised property tax rates to make up for revenue lost from sales and income taxes during the recession, as well as revenue lost from property taxes on houses that have foreclosed."

Good article though.

Henry Howell

A positive step for a more fair and just future in our county and beyond.

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