a1 PW Charlottesville Resolution 56.jpg

Amid citizens' chants of "Shame," Prince William supervisors Chairman Cory Stewart orders the chambers cleared at the conclusion of Tuesday's Supervisor's meeting.Supervisor Frank Principi's resolution condemning the violent acts in Charlottesville on Aug. 12 and supporting the renaming of Confederate symbols in Prince William County died for lack of a second, causing the outburst. Paul Lara for InsideNoVa.com 

Hurled profanities and chants of “Shame, shame!” greeted the Prince William Board of County Supervisors at its Oct. 3 meeting, after lawmakers declined to debate a proposal aimed at changing the monikers of county buildings and roadways named after Confederate figures.
 
Supervisor Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, was proposing a resolution moving the county toward renaming Jefferson Davis Highway (commonly known as U.S. 1), and a volunteer fire station and two schools named for Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in western Prince William. The board doesn’t have the authority to change any of those names unilaterally, but Principi designed the measure as a way to condemn the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville this summer and recommend the re-namings to the relevant parties.
 
Yet supervisors refused to even discuss Principi’s proposal — his motion to open debate on the issue didn’t earn a “second” from a single one of his fellow board members, so it didn’t move forward. That prompted the dozens of community members and activists in attendance, all of whom spoke in support of Principi’s measure, to erupt in jeers and expressions of disbelief at the board’s reticence.
 
Some were so persistent at heckling the supervisors (and pledging to defeat them in coming elections) that At-Large Chairman Corey Stewart, a Republican, forced all the attendees to leave the board chambers. Supervisor Marty Nohe, R-Coles, subsequently proposed a substitute resolution condemning racism and reaffirming the county’s commitment to diversity, but without any of the language recommending the renamings.
 
That measure passed 7-1, with only Principi dissenting in a show of frustration, but it did little to placate the furious advocates stewing in the McCoart Administration Building lobby.
 
“They have no courage, no backbone,” said the Rev. Cozy Bailey, president of the Prince William chapter of the NAACP. “Too many of them have been there too long, so it’s just business as usual. I hope that half of them don’t even run again in 2019. If they do, they will face a very different Prince William County. People are starting to pay more attention.”
a1 PW Charlottesville Resolution 73.jpg
Prince William residents watch the conclusion of Tuesday's Prince William Board of County Supervisors’ meeting on the lobby monitors after Chairman Corey Stewart cleared the board chambers after citizens angrily chastised the board for not voting on a resolution condemning the violent actions in Charlottesville and renaming Confederate symbols in the county. Paul Lara for InsideNova.com
In an interview after the meeting, Principi was frustrated but not necessarily surprised that the board wouldn’t discuss his motion. He felt Nohe’s substitute motion was a bit “mealy-mouthed” and lacked substance, so he didn’t even bother supporting it.
 
“A third-grader could’ve written it,” Principi said. “It’s unfortunate it ended like this.”
 
But once county staff cleared the board chambers, Nohe and the rest of the board took time to blast Principi’s proposal as one that insufficiently engaged the community.
 
“I don’t believe we’re ready for name changes yet,” said Supervisor Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan. “We need much more community involvement, community meetings...and we need an analysis done. We need to know the consequences of each name change.”
 
Anderson and Supervisor Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, both suggested that they may be open to some name changes going forward. But Candland, in particular, saw Principi’s proposal as one of “political opportunism” rather than a good-faith effort to have a discussion about Confederate names.
 
“This process was not meant to unify, but divide,” Candland said. “It should be done together...When it comes time to re-name buildings and roads, what is the line we draw as a community?”
 
Stewart, a vocal defender of Confederate monuments during his failed campaign for Virginia governor and his ongoing campaign for U.S. Senate, remained silent.
Confederate flagpole vandalized in Stafford
Supervisor John Jenkins, D-Neabsco, admitted that he had some concerns about the resolution’s “structural deficiencies,” but he also said that he planned on seconding Principi’s motion to open debate on the issue. But he claimed the crowd “drowned out” his attempts to do so.
 
Principi didn’t buy that argument, noting that there was a long pause before the crowd became unruly where Jenkins could have acted. He said he was “under the impression” he would at least get a second for his motion, and was disappointed Jenkins failed to speak up.
 
“We’re the ones with the microphones,” Principi said. “And then, to clear the chamber, it was just the antithesis of a dignified process.”
 
He also claimed that it’s “nonsense” that there wasn’t enough community feedback on his proposal, pointing out that community members spoke for nearly two hours during the board’s “citizens’ time” and supervisors “didn’t hear one person opposed” to his measure.
 
Principi also said he communicated with state transportation officials and the leadership of the Stonewall Jackson Volunteer Fire Department near Manassas to get a handle on the costs associated with his proposal.
 
The board can’t change the name of the highway without the approval of state legislators, but the county could have replaced the “Jefferson Davis Highway” signs with ones merely designating it as “Route 1.” When combining those costs with any effort to replace the fire department’s equipment and signage, Principi expects it would have cost the county about $500,000 in all, an estimate he said every board member had ahead of the meeting.
 
School board Chairman Ryan Sawyers, who first proposed renaming Stonewall Jackson High School and Stonewall Middle School, estimated that it could cost the school division about $750,000 to rename those buildings. He has started a private “GoFundMe” account to defray those costs, but the debate about renaming Confederate names in the county has often centered around the expense.
 
“Renaming streets and buildings is a worthy conversation for our community to have but should only be done after community input, not as a political stunt intended on inciting emotion,” said D.J. Jordan, spokesman for the Prince William County Republican Committee. “We need a process that unifies our community, analyzes whether this is the best use of taxpayer money and answers the question of how far do these re-namings go."
 
Principi said he isn’t terribly sure how this debate might move forward, adding he would be “pleasantly surprised” if any other supervisor brought up a similar measure for debate at a future meeting. Instead, he hopes that the night’s dramatic turn of events serves to sufficiently frame the stakes of local elections in the rapidly changing county.
 
“I think the folks who want to impeach our chairman will have their spines a bit more strengthened,” Principi said. “As for the rest, we may have to wait until 2019, 2020 to see a change.”

(21) comments

Localrider

13% of this country's population has to learn that they are not going to be pandered to any more. No more of their BS, live with it or get the hell out.

skeprical progressive

Where should they go, back to Africa? Just asking.

Leroy Brown

Don't know where they are from AND DON'T CARE, but they are FREE to leave!

Localrider

A bit racist of you to assume they should go back to Africa. If they left, you won't want them to go to Canada? Sweden? Japan?

Ghostum

It's surprising just how much free time these people have...

Fredrick22

Thank God we are starting to say "no more!" We give and give and give and they want more more more. NO MORE!!

egor20

The Left will stop at nothing short of a ban on all history prior to January 19th 2009.

derek005

It amazes me that most of you folks commenting continue to believe that it is only minorities that are complaining when it is not! People are tired of the racism, hate, and bigotry that Trump, folks like you and Corey Stewart are endorsing and spewing everywhere. If you don't like us standing up for what is right, you get the hell out! PWC still has a few of you racist left and you are the minority in this county and we won't stand for the racism and crap that you folks spew. You love hiding behind your computers and won't show up for a PWC meeting to voice your opinions because you are afraid your hate will expose you.

timt

Bravo derek, couldn't have said it better about all the conservative cowards who comment on Insidenova

Kev4cats

Gee, do you mean hate like Geftman-Gold who was a Vice president and senior legal counsel at CBS who said she was “not even sympathetic” to victims of the Las Vegas shooting because “country music fans often are Republican,” whom she also called “Repugs” (sic).

Do you mean like that Derek?

Or the paid Soros “protesters” who were throwing feces and rocks at people whom were just trying to attend an inaugural ball? Kinda like that hate Derek?

A little bit of hate there on both sides hypocrite.

skeprical progressive

When the names of these roads, schools, and buildings were selected, not a single African American living in PWC had any meaningful opportunity to participate. These names were picked to perpetuate the myth that the Civil War was fought by the South to protect Stayes-rights and had nothing to do with slavery. In fact, it was fought to protect a system of race based slavery that Southern elites regarded as indispensable to maintaining and expanding thier wealth.

Changing these names is not about erasing history, but dispensing with a sanatized version of history that ignores the integral role of racism in our past, and its continued power as a political tool, as witnessed by Chairman Stewart's outright embrace of white supremacy as a means of political advancement. The time for a meaningful discussion of these names, their linkage to our nation's racist past and present, and a more inclusive and realistic way of honoring our county's complex and difficult history is needed. Sadly, only Supervisor Principi has the wisdom to see this.

tbornottb

In my opinion its Corey Stewart who needs to be voted out. The board would function so much better without his racism, bigotry and so on and so forth. He is an embarrassment to a fine county. This renaming thing has become the snowball from hell.

SequerePecuniam

I hope too that it frames the upcoming elections. My greater hope is that the losing side of the issue will accept the outcome and move on. Unfortunately, as witnessed by the 2016 general election, I don’t believe that will be the case.

Leroy Brown

AMEN! If THEY don't get their way, rioting will start up and again, THEY will be wanting a do over again. They will point their fingers at everyone and blame
EVERYONE, but NOT their own doing. SORRY snowflakes

TB FFX

Am I not racist if I refer to blacks/ African Americans as colored? You may want to check what NAACP is an acronym for.

OBLUE

seems they want everything done the way they want without working for it no problem with the name of the school or the road look route one change done ease up people you act like children that dont get there way

Trump'sNewAmerica

While we're changing everything, let's not forget to change all things that have the name MLK or Malcolm X attached to them.

Leroy Brown

If this just so happens to pass, that the name of roads or buildings are renamed, it should be something else other than a person, PS1 (Public School 1), HS1 (High School 1). Mascots should be Yellow Butterfly, Toad Bull Frogs and last but not least the Swallows.

derek005

OBLUE, "I love the poorly educated" and Trump was spot on. Thanks for proving his point.

Fredrick22

Colin Flaherty on You Tube tells it like it is

Fredrick22

Colinflaherty.com

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.