Green light: Climate protesters seek ‘radical action’
The protesters chanted a straightforward call and response as they marched on the Downtown Mall:
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
Drums, tambourines, and mandolins accompanied the chants. The group held handmade signs with slogans ranging from “No Pipeline” to “That awkward moment when you burn your planet.”
The Sunrise Movement, a national environmental advocacy group, organized the December 6 march in hopes of maintaining momentum from September’s massive, worldwide climate strikes. Two dozen marchers began at UVA’s Rotunda and ended at the free speech wall, where 70 or so people gathered to listen to a series of speakers.
“The time is not 12 years from now, 30 years from now,” said Jack Mills, a UVA student and hub organizer for the Sunrise Movement. “We’re going to demand radical action.”
Delegate-elect Sally Hudson urged the protesters to turn their attention to Richmond, telling the crowd that the new Democratic majority makes climate progress “possible, but by no means guaranteed.”
“I want to see you there with me,” Hudson said. “The voices that get heard are the ones that sing together.”
The organizers collected signatures on a petition to submit to City Council, demanding transparency as the city works towards its stated goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
Twelve-year-old climate activist Gudrun Campbell spoke last, saying that Governor Ralph Northam’s poor climate record was the reason she wasn’t “in sixth period right now.” Northam has come under fire for owning stock in Dominion Energy, the company behind the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and appointing a former Dominion executive as his communications chief.
“We need to hold our leaders accountable,” Campbell said.
Charlottesville’s Green Grannies, an aptly-named musical group of elderly activists, closed the program with a song, and the crowd joined in: “We need to build a better future and we need to start right now.”
Quote of the week
“It’s disappointing that a university with a $9.6 billion endowment—and $2 billion reserve fund that’s larger than the state’s rainy day fund—still feels the need to squeeze hardworking students and families.” —Stacie Gordon, Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust’s state advocacy manager, on UVA raising tuition 3.6 percent
With a new Democratic state legislature promising stricter gun control, more than 40 Virginia counties have declared themselves gun-friendly “Second Amendment sanctuaries.” (The resolutions aren’t legally binding.) The map highlights in red the counties that have adopted these measures, including Orange, Louisa, and Augusta.
Public parks, private security
Weeks after an unauthorized camera and what appeared to be a homemade booby trap were found by the Jackson statue, UVA prof and activist Jalane Schmidt and others were confronted by men claiming to be “security” or undercover cops in the Market Street and Court Square parks. About three dozen people joined Schmidt Monday night at a short-notice monuments tour and learned about their rights in public spaces from a National Lawyers Guild member. Schmidt says the faux cops create a confusing and dangerous situation.
No work, all pay
Deputy City Manager Mike Murphy has bid the City Council offices adieu—but you wouldn’t know it from looking at his pay stubs. Murphy, who previously served as interim city manager and earned $158,000 annually, retired on December 6, but will continue to be paid through October 2020. “My time with the City of Charlottesville has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined,” Murphy told NBC29.
Champion Brewery’s plan to convert an abandoned church on Earlysville Road into a beer garden has drawn pushback from nearby homeowners and environmental groups. Hunter Smith, Champion’s owner, wants to offer a “cool family-friendly outdoor experience,” reports the Daily Progress, but local advocacy organizations like the Ivy Creek Foundation have warned against the “dangerous and destructive impact” that the brewery could have on wildlife and waterways.
(Not) getting on board
The Police Civilian Review Board has been years in the making, but the city received only 14 applications for its 8 spots on the board. The applicants range from a longtime community activist to a U.S. Navy veteran, according to The Daily Progress, and include two of the losing candidates from last month’s election, Bellamy Brown and Elliot Harding. Bylaws stipulate that three members must be from a historically-disadvantaged community (or live in public housing), and one must represent a racial or social justice organization. Council will interview the candidates in a closed session before its December 16 meeting.