Sean Perryman Considering Bid for Lt. Governor

Sean-Headshot-1-300x300While I support Hala Ayala for Lt. Governor, there have been a number of people who have expressed interest in the position who I believe would make excellent candidates. Elizabeth Guzman, for instance, is a strong progressive who represents parts of Prince William and Faquier Counties in the House of Delegates and is exploring a potential bid for the LG position. We have yet another interesting candidate now as Sean Perryman has announced that he’s considering throwing his hat in the ring.

Sean is the President of the Fairfax County NAACP, which is the largest NAACP chapter in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and has a long history of community activism. Among other things during his time at the NAACP, he’s done a tremendous job of highlighting how there are economic consequences to racism and other forms of bigotry. He’s therefore effectively highlighted how fighting hatred isn’t just a moral issue, but an economic justice one as well.

He hinted at this during his announcement when he said it’s crucial for Virginia to have leaders who will ensure everybody has the opportunity to thrive.

“Our nation and Commonwealth are in a period of crisis and our leaders are failing us,” Perryman said in a statement he put out this morning. “People are discouraged, disillusioned, and, in many cases, suffering. We must do a better job of responding to these crises and find more creative and effective ways to help everyday people not only get by but achieve their full potential.”

Many local leaders have had good things to say about Sean entering the race. Former Fairfax County School Board member Pat Hynes, for instance, highlighted how she frequently turned to him for information about the community and important issues.

“This makes me hopeful,” Pat said on Facebook. “Sean Perryman was my go-to community advocacy leader when I served on school bd. He is effective. He’s knowledgeable, tireless, focused, and honest. He builds capacity in others. Believe he will fight for our communities and win.”

Other activists have chiming in as Elaine de Leon responded to the announcement by saying she’s “been waiting for the day Sean Perryman decides to run for something basically since the day I met him. This is going to be so good for Virginia.”

A lot can obviously happen between now and next year’s primary as I imagine there are many folks who are waiting until after the November election to make a decision, but it looks like it’s stacking up to be a competitive primary. With so many strong candidates running, it’ll only strengthen the eventual nominee as the primary will force campaigns to fine tune their policy positions and run an effective field and fundraising effort (whatever that looks like in a post-Coronavirus world).

Circuit Court Judge Upholds Background Check Legislation

A circuit court judge has upheld a new law passed this year requiring background checks on all gun sales in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The legislation was already a compromise with folks who oppose reasonable reforms to help end gun violence as most Virginians wanted the legislation to require background checks on all transfers of guns, even if the transaction wasn’t technically a sale.

It should be noted that the ruling comes from a judge in Lynchburg, which isn’t exactly what most people would consider a hotbed of liberal activism. It therefore carries some weight in showing that the new laws are simply a way to respect the 2nd Amendment while also ensuring criminals aren’t able to acquire dangerous weapons.

Since the federal background check system doesn’t allow checks on people under the age of 21, however, the judge did rule that the law could be applied to 18 to 20 year olds who are interested in purchasing weapons. In his opinion, Judge F. Patrick Yeatts wrote that “although the Act is facially constitutional, the Commonwealth is currently unprepared to administer it in a way that does not infringe on the right of adults under 21 to purchase a handgun, the ‘quintessential self-defense weapon.’”

The VCDL, an extremist group whose members have made death threats against those who support reasonable efforts to end gun violence, was one of the plaintiffs in the suit and is claiming the exemption as “a victory for now for VCDL.”

Perhaps wanting to keep their members agitated, however, they did warn their members to “stay tuned” as “that could change.” It’s with that in mind they’re also encouraging folks to attend local government meetings and speak out against any attempt to help end gun violence at the local level.

As we’ve seen gubernatorial candidates right here in Virginia carrying weapons of war while attending rallies with white supremacists, it’s clear small victories like this ruling are important ways to deal with the epidemic of gun violence our country’s facing.

Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy Speaks At Black Lives Matter Rally (With Recording)

A little over 100 people gathered at South County High School in Lorton yesterday to participate in a rally for the empowerment of black women. As speakers from a variety of walks of life spoke, it was powerful how many women told their personal story of having their value diminished by others based upon both their race and their gender. With that being said, it was also important to note how every single speaker mentioned there’s a path forward with making sure everybody has the opportunity to thrive.

One woman who spoke was Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who was one of the first black women to attend VMI and is running to be the first black female governor in the entire country. During her speech, Jenn spoke about how the current movement isn’t just about justice, but demands accountability.

“We are not marching and we are not standing because we want justice,” Del. Carroll Foy said. “Justice is for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the countless other black and brown bodies who have been killed on our corners due to racial injustice to still be living and breathing.”

“So no, we are not asking for is justice. We will never get that,” she added. “But what we are asking for is accountability. Because in the Commonwealth of Virginia and across this country, we two criminal justice systems. One for brown, black, and other marginalized communities. And one that works well for everyone else.”

Jennifer says the need for accountability comes because there has been a there has been “a demonization and criminalization of black and brown skin” that’s resulted in people of color cannot “sleep in our own homes and jog in our own community” without being worried (a reference to two black Americans who have recently been murdered).

With all this in mind, Del. Carroll Foy focused in on how we must combine the grassroots action we’ve seen in communities all across the country with concrete legislation action to help make meaningful long term change.

“Now that there are peaceful protests with a purpose, which are good, we also need the policy to back that up,” Jennifer said. “To ensure that these type of tragedies don’t happen in Virginia or anywhere else. That’s why I protest by passing policy.”

Among the potential legislative actions she highlighted were civilian review boards, special prosecution teams to investigate any officer involved homicide, and a process that ensures transparency and accountability. She also mentioned relatively easier tasks like making it required that potential police officers disclose if they’re a member of a white supremacist organization (something that’s not required right now).

Listening to Del. Carroll Foy speak, the main thing I took away was we’re at a moment right now where many being are paying attention because we saw how police officers sat idly by as they watched one of their colleagues kill a black man over the course of eight minutes and forty-six seconds. While there is no way we can bring George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many others back to live, we can honor their legacy by making sure their tragic deaths lead to long term positive change.

For those who are interested, here’s a recording of Jennifer Carroll Foy’s remarks.

GOP Candidate Bob Good Says Systematic Racism Doesn’t Exist

Bob Good, the Republican nominee in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, won the nomination largely because he repeatedly bashed his opponent for participating in the wedding ceremony of two male staffers. He’s now continued to show his ignorance by claiming systemic racism no longer exists and is actually “a manufactured crisis” designed to make Donald Trump look bad.

Good went on to claim an African American running against him is the “worst” candidate and is horrible because “he’s wrapped himself in the Black Lives Matter movement,” which he claims is bad because it supports equality for all…. including LGBT people. In other words, he claimed systematic racism doesn’t exist but immediately proceeded to attack someone for believing traditionally marginalized communities shouldn’t be discriminated against.

All this comes as multiple people of color have been murdered, the cops were called on a black man because he was birding, a wealthy white couple pulled guns on Black Lives Matter protesters, and so much more racist activity happens on a daily basis. Just like how Trump claimed the coronavirus was a hoax created by the Democrats to make him look bad, Bob Good claims these things don’t happen and it’s all a big ploy to make Trump and the GOP look bad

Loudoun County To Remove Confederate Monument

With the national conversation surrounding statues that glorify white supremacists who led armies against the United States because they wanted to buy and sell black people, Loudoun County has received some attention as it plans to remove a statue from the grounds of the county courthouse. It’s especially symbolic that Phyllis Randall, the first African American ever elected Chair of the county Board of Supervisors, was one of the leading advocates for removal.

On Tuesday, Phyllis presided over a unanimous vote to remove the statue and return it to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The vote helped show how even more moderate counties like Loudoun, which still has some conservative rural communities in it, realize it’s inappropriate to have public monuments that represent oppression.

With that being said, we also can’t ignore that we still have elected officials who are trying to promote a false narrative surrounding confederate monuments. Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin), for instance, tried to create a put a positive spin on statues glorifying white supremacists while saying he only voted for removal because the statue was being given to the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

“It’s dishonest to say we have to tear this down because it was put up for oppressive reasons,” Kershner said according to the Washington Post. “We shouldn’t be removing history from our public square. It’s a very dangerous precedent that gets set.”

Despite the comments from Kershner, Chair Randall highlighted how this was a community effort to make sure public grounds are used to help create a welcoming community.

“Credit goes to the thousands of Loudoun residents and Freedom Fighters who never stopped pushing for justice,” Phyllis tweeted. “Thank you to my colleagues who believed in the righteousness of the cause.”

In another tweet, she highlighted some history surrounding the state and the racism that was far too often seen in Loudoun’s courthouse.

“In 1889 Orion Andersen, 14 was taken from Loudoun’s Courthouse and Jail. He was dragged, beat, shot & lynched. His ‘crime,’ he scared a white girl with a playful gesture,” Phyllis said. “19 years later, a Confederate monument was placed in front of that Courthouse. On July 7, 2020…the arc bent.”

As someone who has a degree in American history and has always had an interest in the Civil War, I agree it’s a topic worth studying and I completely understand why people are passionate about it. But if we’re truly interested in history and not simply promoting white supremacy, we also cannot ignore the history surrounding the statues.

Why are the far more statues glorifying the confederacy in Virginia, for instance, then honoring figures of the American Revolution? Virginians played an enormous role the revolution, but some people appear to be more interested in keeping statues glorifying people who led armies against the US because they wanted to buy and sell human beings then looking at Virginia’s part in the revolution.

Especially with recent events further illustrating the systematic racism that has unfortunately been a part of our society for centuries, taking steps towards creating a more welcoming community is absolutely necessary. Removing a statue isn’t going to solve all our issues, but it’s symbolic of how Virginians want to see progress made.

Laura Ingraham Attacks Fairfax County Public Schools

After Betsy DeVos has repeatedly attacked Fairfax County Public Schools recently, Laura Ingraham of Fox News took to the airwaves yesterday to spew all sorts of nonsense about the school system. Among other things, she claimed “Black Lives Matters zealots have an oversized influence” and “they’re trying to turn your kids into hardcore activists.” The remarks came because she was furious that the county’s considering hiring a Chief Equity Officer.

This kind of nonsense is nothing new, however, as it’s the same hate filled rhetoric that we saw on the campaign trail during last year’s state and local elections here in Virginia. The Republican Party has become so extreme that they lost every single school board race in Fairfax last year and there’s only two Republicans who represent any precincts in the county.

These miserable results was largely a result of their candidates doing things like saying the school system was wrong to even consider the names of schools that glorified confederate soldiers, claiming LGBT students were the “loudest special interest group” and we should “stop wasting our time” on equality, suggesting people of color couldn’t possibly face discrimination because there were plenty of ethnic restaurants in Fairfax, insisting that immigrants are bringing diseases into the schools, and actually skipping events at schools in their district in order to host events with senior staffers from SPLC designated hate groups.

With all that in mind, here’s the video of Laura Ingraham speaking about how horrible she thinks it is that the school system is actively trying to create a welcoming environment and ensure that every student has the opportunity to thrive.

School Board Members Deserve More Respect

I imagine many of you have seen Karen Keys-Gamarra’s post on Blue Virginia about how she had someone hurl racial slurs at her during a virtual meeting of a local Democratic Committee, but I wanted to mention it here since I’m chairman of the committee that was holding the meeting. In case there’s any doubt, I strongly oppose the cowardly comments that were made and believe they have no place in our society. Karen’s done incredible work on the school board and I’m grateful she took the time to speak with the committee.

For those who are interested, here’s the email I sent out to our membership the next morning:

As many of you already know, last night’s virtual meeting for the Sully Dems was “zoom bombed” by several different people. While it’s unclear right now if they were affiliated with a specific organization, the “zoom bombers” directed disgraceful and bigoted comments at several members of the committee … including calling an African American elected official the n word.

There’s no way around it. The people who made these remarks are cowards who wanted to hide behind their computer screens and remain anonymous while spewing hatred designed to prevent meaningful discussion of local issues. And it speaks volumes about the character of our members that the remarks were immediately strongly condemned.

I know I’m just one of many Sully Dems members who have been joining protests recently to express outrage over the tragic deaths of George Floyd and so many others. Unfortunately, the cowardly actions of the people making racist remarks last night are a stark reminder of how hatred takes on many different forms and cannot be ignored.

One of the reasons I love living in Fairfax County is the vast majority of residents value serving the community and believe everybody deserves the opportunity to thrive. Those are the values that brought us together for last night’s meeting and they’re the values we’ll carry with us as we continue to stand up to the racism and divisiveness these hate filled individuals espoused.

As Chairman of the Sully Dems, I strive to make the committee a welcoming community and absolutely abhor the hatred these individuals promoted. I have already begun having conversations with committee leaders at the countywide level about the situation and you have my word we’re working to ensure this type of egregious behavior isn’t able to disrupt future virtual meetings.

In Solidarity,
Bryan Scrafford
Chairman, Sully District Democratic Committee

Dominion Energy Cancels Atlantic Coast Pipeline

In a statement released over the weekend, Dominion Energy “announced the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (“ACP”) due to ongoing delays and increasing cost uncertainty which threaten the economic viability of the project.” They added that “recent developments have created an unacceptable layer of uncertainty and anticipated delays for ACP.”

For those who are wondering what the “recent developments” are, it’s the prolonged campaign against the pipeline by people who were outraged over the environmental impact the unnecessary project would have and the resulting economic consequences that would largely impact on communities that are predominately made up of people of color.

As the news came out, there were several elected officials expressed support for the grassroots activists who secured the victory. Delegate Elizabeth Guzman said we shouldn’t “discount the magic of activism” while adding it’s time to “invest in more clean energy and green union jobs,” for instance, and Danica Roem pointed out that “all y’all who helped change the House of Delegates made a *huge* difference” and gave “our veteran colleagues [in the General Assembly] the reinforcements they needed to successfully fight.”

Perhaps one of the best comments about the announcement came from a “translation” Prince William County Supervisor Kenny Boddye posted on twitter. Kenny suggested Dominion’s press release essentially said “we would’ve gotten away with our money-making, planet-killing gas export scheme if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!” Kenny’s remarks not only hit the nail on the head, but also helped to highlight just how many people representing Prince William County really stepped up on this issue.

In addition to the obvious environmental victory this decision represents, it’s also a huge deal because it shows how Dominion’s power in slowly fading. The state regulated monopoly has long gotten its way as it poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of politicians on both sides of the aisle. This has meant any real progress was going to difficult because even elected officials who were supposedly environmentally friendly owed their election in part to receiving funds from Dominion.

As Del. Roem hinted at in her comments, however, the recent changes in the House of Delegates helped to address this. Not only were there more people in the General Assembly advocating for environmental justice, but many folks had pledged not to take campaign donations from Dominion and therefore had stronger footing to truly take a stance against some of the utility company’s horrible policies.

While there is obviously still more work to be done to ensure the natural resources Virginia has to offer are protected, this is indeed a great reminder of how grassroots activists standing up for what’s right can have a positive impact on the community.

Amanda Chase Attends Rally With White Supremacists

amanda chaseIn case there was any doubt about whether or not Amanda Chase was going after the vote of white supremacists after she said a member of the legislative black caucus couldn’t possibly represent all Virginians, she spent the Fourth of July hanging out with some rather despicable characters while carrying an assault weapon at a rally in Richmond. As the Richmond Times Dispatch reports, the crowd included white supremacists, opponents of gun violence prevention, and other “right wing extremist groups.”

It should be noted that while Chase has been actively defending monuments glorifying white supremacists who led armies against the United States because they wanted to buy and sell black people, she was surrounded by members of the boogaloos at the rally. For those who don’t know, the boogaloos are a violent right wing extremist group who actually advocate for a second civil war because they want to ensure liberals are removed from the government.

As Lowell over at Blue Virginia pointed out, there’s no way Chase could have denied knowing that the boogaloos were going to be there because she even posted on Facebook saying the rally was “in honor of Duncan Lemp.” Lemp was associated with a far right paramilitary group and was known to help groups who were a part of the boogaloo movement.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the whole situation is Chase appeared to know the crowds she was associating with would give a bad impression because she repeatedly kept claiming she wasn’t a racist. She frequently posted on social media about her conversation with a black man at the event, for instance, and she reportedly made sure reporters conveniently overheard it when she told a black woman “I’m with you and believe all people should be treated equally.”

Nonetheless, she still had no problem surrounding herself with white supremacists, has claimed members of the black caucus can’t look out for all Virginians, and claimed the only reason we don’t have a “white history month” or “white legislative conference” is because people would be “triggered.” In other words, she’s basically suggesting people who are black can’t represent all Virginians and that political correctness is preventing her ability to join a white pride group.

While she’s doing all of this, she’s still the frontrunner for the Republican nomination and the Republican Party of Virginia has been incredibly silent about the issue. As Delegate Jay Jones pointed out on twitter, “the silence is deafening here.”