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Herring files brief asking SCOVA to dissolve injunction and allow the Commonwealth to remove the Lee statue

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RICHMOND (April 19, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has filed a brief asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to uphold the Richmond Circuit Court’s ruling that removal of the divisive Robert E. Lee statue is lawful and to dissolve the injunction that is currently preventing the Commonwealth from taking down the state-owned statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond. Attorney General Herring’s brief makes the case not just for why the statue can be taken down, but why it should be taken down, recounting the statue’s prominent role in perpetuating Lost Cause propaganda and promoting racially segregated neighborhoods in Richmond.

“The Lee statue has held a place of prominence in the capital of Virginia, sending a message of white supremacy and division, for far too long and it is time for it to come down,” said Attorney General Herring. “The continued obstruction that has so far prohibited the Commonwealth from exercising its right to remove state-owned property must stop. I remain committed to ensuring that this stark reminder of a racist past comes down, allowing Virginia to move forward on its journey of healing and reconciliation.”

Additionally, a number of Virginians, advocacy groups, and legal scholars are expected to submit nine amicus briefs today in support of Attorney General Herring’s efforts to remove the statue.

On October 27, 2020, Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant ruled in favor of Attorney General Herring and Governor Northam in finding that the Lee statue’s removal was lawful. In January 2021, Attorney General Herring asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to reject this appeal that seeks to keep the state-owned Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue. He also asked SCOVA, if they chose to hear the appeal, to do so as quickly as possible.


Below are some notable passages from Attorney General Herring’s brief:

“In 1890, the then-Governor of Virginia accepted a statue from a nominally private organization of which that same Governor was also, simultaneously, the president. More than 130 years later, a different Governor decided that the statue—a piece of Commonwealth-owned property—should be relocated from one area of Commonwealth ownership and control to another. The General Assembly has agreed. That should be the end of the matter.” [page 1]

“In these two cases, however, a handful of private individuals claim a judicially enforceable right to veto the shared decision of the political branches. As plaintiffs see it, the people of 2021 may not take down a divisive symbol that those who held power in 1890 decided to put up.” [page 1]

“That cannot possibly be right. It is axiomatic that government officials are neither obligated to continue the policies of their predecessors nor capable of preventing their successors from making a different choice. And because even Constitutions may be amended as times change or circumstances warrant, it is clear that the claim plaintiffs assert is alien both to the law and the ability of future generations to create ‘a more perfect Union.’” [page 1]

“The end of the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments initially brought hope that the newly freed would enjoy the full benefits of citizenship and that the horrors of slavery would be consigned to the dustbin of history…But that promise proved elusive, as efforts soon began to curtail Black political power and bring forth a new era where the basic structures of slavery would persist in practice, if not in name.” [page 2]

“As part of that effort, various commentators embarked on a deliberate campaign to recast the object of Southern secession away from the actual reason secessionists had given at the time: the preservation of slavery. ‘The whole point of” this quickly developing ‘Lost Cause’ mythology was ‘to clothe everything in a language of home, of sacrifice, of loss, of valor, of glory, of religion; everything except the explicit thing that precipitated the severing of the United States.’” [page 3]

“On May 29, 1890, the Lee Monument was unveiled in a ceremony attended by as many as 150,000 people…The event was a both ‘display of . . . uncompromised devotion to the Confederacy’ and ‘a demonstration of the solidarity and power of white people in the South.” [page 5]

“Even in 1890, not everyone in Richmond felt pride in the unveiling of the Lee Monument. A Black-owned newspaper edited by prominent businessman and politician John Mitchell, Jr., for example, criticized the spectacle as ‘handing down . . . a legacy of treason and blood.’…Mitchell’s paper noted that many of those who attended carried ‘emblems of the ‘Lost Cause’’ with an ‘enthusiasm’ that was ‘astound[ing].’…By ‘rever[ing] the memory of its chieftains’ in this way, the paper argued, the ‘celebration . . . forge[d] heavier chains with which to be bound.’” [page 6]

“In 1902—12 years after the Lee Monument was unveiled and just one year after the first house was completed on Monument Avenue—Virginia’s new Constitution mandated racial segregation in schools and disenfranchised Black voters…In 1911, Richmond adopted a residential segregation ordinance—later upheld by this Court—restricting Black residents to certain city blocks…Real estate companies drew on Monument Avenue’s symbolism to attract affluent white residents as the city expanded, advertising race-based restrictions under which ‘[n]o lots [could] ever be sold or rented . . . to any person of African descent.’…These efforts made ‘explicit’ that ‘th[e] purpose was to claim this part of the city as for white people only.’” [page 6-7]

“In no uncertain terms, the inequality enshrined in law continued the legacy of the Lee Monument and others built to valorize Lee and the Lost Cause. The race-based violence inherent in slavery also persisted after the defeat of the Confederacy, as the Jim Crow era was marked by ‘racial terror and lynchings’ throughout the South.” [page 7]

“During the last several years, Richmond’s Lee Monument and other Confederate monuments have become ever-greater hotbeds for controversy. In August 2017, ‘white supremacist extremist organizations’ descended on Charlottesville for the ‘Unite the Right’ rally—a now-infamous demonstration opposing the City’s decision to remove a different Lee statue—as both ‘a show of force’ and an attempt to ‘lay[] exclusive claim . . . to public space [and] to the streets of Charlottesville.’…The demonstration turned violent, with ‘armed men menacing peaceful protestors’ and ‘a contingent of faith leaders’ threatened with ‘physical harm.’…Three people died, dozens were injured, and countless more were traumatized.” [page 8]

“In response to the events in Charlottesville and elsewhere, the General Assembly amended the Code of Virginia during its 2020 session to give localities more control over government-owned monuments on government-owned property, specifically repealing previous language that had prohibited ‘disturb[ing] or interfer[ing]’ with certain monuments…During the same session, the General Assembly also eliminated a state holiday ‘honor[ing] Robert Edward Lee,’…and created a Commission for Historical Statues to determine whether to replace a different statue of Lee that was then one of Virginia’s two submissions in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol. [page 8-9]

“The killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, sparked massive protests against police brutality and systemic racism throughout the Nation, including in Virginia…On June 4, 2020—10 days later—Governor Northam announced that he would exercise his authority as the Commonwealth’s chief executive to relocate ‘the statue of Robert E. Lee’ that sits atop the Lee Monument from one area of Commonwealth control to another.” [page 9]

“The General Assembly has also addressed the Lee Monument. On November 18, 2020, the Governor signed a bill stating ‘the Department of General Services, in accordance with the direction and instruction of the Governor, shall remove and store the Robert E. Lee Monument or any part thereof.’…The law also states that this instruction applies ‘[n]othwithstanding the provisions of” the 1889 Joint Resolution, ‘which is hereby repealed.’” [page 10]

“…the [Richmond Circuit Court]…found that the Commonwealth had ‘overwhelmingly established’ the desire of white Southerners ‘to establish a monument to their ‘Lost Cause,’ and to some degree their whole way of life, including slavery,’ and that ‘[i]t was out of this backdrop that the erection of the Lee Monument took place’…the court specifically noted Dr. Gaines’ testimony ‘that today the monument stands as a contradiction to present societal values.’” [page 15-16]

“The Governor has determined that a Commonwealth-owned statue should be relocated from one area of Commonwealth ownership and control to another. The General Assembly has agreed. That should be the end of the matter.” [page 16]

“…the assertion at the heart of these cases is staggering. Plaintiffs insist that those who held power in Virginia more than 130 years ago made a binding promise that a massive monument to the Lost Cause must remain in its current location forever and that any number of people may enforce that promise in perpetuity by way of an injunction. Plaintiffs identify no decision from any court that has ever recognized such an extraordinary restriction against any property owner—much less against the sovereign. And with good reason: plaintiffs’ arguments are deeply flawed and profoundly anti-democratic.” [page 16-17]

“In these cases, a handful of private individuals assert a right to veto the shared judgment of the Governor and the General Assembly that a divisive piece of Commonwealth-owned statuary should be removed from a place of honor on Commonwealth-owned real property. The circuit court correctly rejected that proposition, and this Court should affirm for one of two independent reasons. First, the 2020 Law defeats all of plaintiffs’ claims, and the Taylor plaintiffs’ various challenges to the validity or effect of that law all fail…Second, plaintiffs’ claims always lacked merit and would have failed even absent the 2020 Law…Accordingly, the Court should affirm the decisions of the circuit court and promptly dissolve the injunction pending appeal in Taylor.” [page 21]

“All of plaintiffs’ various claims boil down to an assertion that the Governor has not been granted the authority to remove the Lee statue or that some other document (the 1889 Joint Resolution, the deeds, or both) forbids him from ever doing so. Those claims always failed—and the 2020 Law simply confirms it.”

“…the 2020 Law plainly represents a legislative judgment that leaving the Lee statue in its present location is, in fact, inconsistent with public comfort, welfare, and even health. As the circuit court noted, Dr. Gaines explained why the continued presence of a massive monument to the Lost Cause in the heart of the Commonwealth’s capital city ‘stands as a contradiction to present societal values’ and ‘that there is a ‘consensus that the monuments are a troubling presence.’’” [page 25]

“…the Commonwealth is not just any landowner, and the display of government-owned monuments on government-owned property involves matters of core government speech. Accordingly, regardless of whether the sort of right that plaintiffs assert would be valid against a private party, it cannot prevent the Commonwealth of today from choosing a different course.” [page 54]

“This Court should take care to forestall any such questions. By the time this case is argued, the Commonwealth will have been enjoined for more than a year and that period will continue to expand during the time it takes for the Court to rule. Despite plaintiffs’ late-breaking arguments under the federal Contracts Clause—which are conspicuously absent from plaintiffs’ complaint and arose only as a response to the Commonwealth’s argument that the 2020 Law defeats plaintiffs’ claims…these cases are and always have been overwhelmingly about issues of Virginia law. If plaintiffs want to continue their fight beyond the Commonwealth’s own highest court, it should be their burden to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a further injunction. Accordingly, the Court should—in addition to affirming the circuit court’s judgments on the merits—make it unambiguously clear that the Taylor injunction is immediately dissolved and that the Commonwealth may, finally, remove the Lee statue from its current location in the heart of its capital city.” [page 72-73]

 

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Glass ceiling on statewide offices remains for black women

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Four Black women have entered the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial race. If elected, the commonwealth would become the first state with a Black female governor.

Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, and former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, are competing for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Former Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson is seeking the Republican nomination. Independent activist and educator Princess Blanding is running for the new Liberation Party, which she helped establish last year.

Former U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, D-New York, made history in 1972 when she became the first Black woman to seek a U.S. presidential nomination for a major political party. Almost 50 years later, the road to electing a Black woman to a governorship or the presidency has yet to be traveled.

“The next time a woman of whatever color, or a dark-skinned person of whatever sex aspires to be president, the way should be a little smoother because I helped pave it,” Chisholm said in 1973 regarding her unsuccessful presidential bid.


Dearth of representation

Since Chisholm was elected, 50 Black women have served in Congress or federal office, according to the Center for American Women and Politics database. Ten Black women have held statewide executive offices such as lieutenant governor or attorney general, according to the same database. No Black woman has ever been elected governor, although former Georgia Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, came close in a 2018 hotly contested election.

Carroll Foy said the nation’s history limits what some citizens view as a capable candidate.

“Unfortunately, people look to the past to try to dictate what can happen in the future,” she said. “When people see women of color running for higher office, we are seen as the exception and not the rule.”

Organizations dedicated to electing women to an office such as EMILY’S List, Higher Heights, and EMERGE aim to make the paths to the office more accessible in recent years, providing advice, contributions, and peer support to women candidates.

McClellan said when she first ran for a House seat in 2005, she had very little guidance and few mentors.

“There was no collective PAC, there was no EMERGE, you know, groups that have since formed to help Black candidates and women candidates and Black women candidates. They weren’t there,” McClellan said. “I had to really do it on my own, with help from the handful of people who had done it before me.”

Media representation

The media often poorly represents women in politics, according to Political Parity, a research group that recruits and supports women candidates. Often, media coverage surrounding women running for office adds unnecessary details about a woman candidate’s clothing, weight, qualifications, motherhood situation, and emotional maturity, according to the same report.

“Whether it’s questions about their parenting or their husbands, it’s just questions that we don’t see male candidates get,” said Kristen Hernandez, deputy director of campaign communications for EMILY’S List, an organization devoted to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office. “We’ve seen sexist rhetoric, misogynistic comments, and racist tropes as well.”

McClellan said perhaps the most consistent troubling narrative she sees in the media surrounding her campaign are questions about her qualifications. McClellan said she has more experience than all her Democratic opponents combined.

“There never seems to be a question, when a white man runs for governor, but yet for us it’s, ‘Are you ready?’” McClellan said. “If I’m not ready after 16 years in state government, when would I ever be ready?”

McClellan said she also frequently sees herself and Carroll Foy lumped together in news articles, as they are both Black women who have served in the state legislature. A New York Times analyst hypothesized last month that McAuliffe might win the Democratic primary race because three of his competitors — McClellan, Carroll Foy, and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax — are Black, younger, and generally more left-wing than McAuliffe.

Voters typically prefer candidates that most resemble themselves, according to a study published in an Oxford Academic Journal. This tendency suggests that Black women must also convince all constituents that despite being Black, they do not solely represent Black Virginians. Instead, most see themselves as the most qualified person for the job who just so happens to be a Black woman.

“I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am Black and proud,” Chisholm said during a campaign event in ’72. “I am not the candidate of the woman’s [sic] movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that.”

Even now the persistent myth that Black candidates can only win in majority-minority districts continues to plague America’s political scene, according to the Brookings Institute, a public policy organization headquartered in the District of Columbia. But of the five non-incumbent Black women elected to Congress in 2018, all were Democrats and four won in majority-white districts, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

Fundraising obstacles

One of the biggest barriers to elected office is the ability to raise campaign funds. The ability to fund a campaign continues to be a major obstacle to success for many women, not just women of color, according to the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan law and policy institute. The Center also found that candidates often receive party support based on their fundraising potential, which disadvantages candidates without notoriety, wealthy support networks or self-funding abilities. Donors who fund political campaigns are often wealthy, white, and typically male, according to Demos, a Liberal think tank. These donors, according to the same report, also have different views and priorities, especially on the issues that matter most to Black women.

Blanding is the sister of the late Marcus-David Peters, a Black man shot and killed by a Richmond Police officer while he experienced what his family said was a mental health crisis. Blanding said fundraising is an ongoing struggle. She recalled looking at the first financial records report from the Board of Elections and said she could not help but “crack up laughing” at the amount she raised compared to other candidates.

“But guess what? I have volunteers who are working around the clock to get the same results that they are paying for,” Blanding said. “That means a whole lot more to me.”

Carroll Foy raised just over $1.8 million in the first quarter, while McClellan raised roughly half a million dollars, according to a Capital News Service analysis of fundraising reports. Carroll Foy resigned from her seat to fundraise. General Assembly members can not fundraise until the session adjourns. Blanding raised almost $12,000 in the first quarter and Johnson raised $800. Altogether, all four women have raised just over half of what Democratic frontrunner and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe raised.

Aprill Turner, vice president of communications and external affairs for Higher Heights for America, said all women must run against a “boys’ club.” Higher Heights for America is a political action committee that seeks to mobilize and elevate the voices of Black women across the country. Turner said the path to elected offices has typically been paved by white men, and usually involves network connections and exclusive organizations that people of color and women have historically been unable to access.

“You’ll see men groomed in a different way, or almost appointed,” Turner said. “Like, ‘You’ve got next,’ and kind of that little boys’ network.”

Will the statewide glass ceiling remain intact?

Former Del. Winsome Sears, R-Winchester, is running for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Sears was elected to a majority-Black district in 2002, becoming the first Republican to do so in Virginia since 1865. If she won the seat she would be the first Black woman to ever serve as Virginia’s lieutenant governor. Fairfax, who currently holds the seat, was the first Black man elected to serve in this position.

Carroll Foy and McClellan will both compete for the Democratic Party’s nomination on June 8. Johnson competes in the Republican Party’s unassembled convention taking place statewide on May 8. Blanding will make it to the November ballot if she collects 2,000 signatures by June 8, which she is confident she will achieve.

Carroll Foy feels confident she will win the election.

“We’re mobilizing and organizing more people of color, more people from the AAPI community, from the Latinx community, the Indigenous community, the millennials, more women than ever before,” Carroll Foy said, regarding her campaign. “We’re building the most diverse coalition of voters and supporters that Virginia has ever seen.”

Early voting is underway for the Democratic primary on June 8.

By Josephine Walker
Capital News Service

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

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Virginal National Guard to be deployed to Middle East for Federal active duty

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Governor Ralph Northam announced on May 5, 2021, that Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins will deploy for federal active duty in the Middle East. Secretary Hopkins is a Colonel in the Virginia Army National Guard and will be deploying with the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division. Hopkins has served in the Northam Administration since inauguration and has played a critical role in making Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the nation. Deputy Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Kathleen Jabs will serve as Acting Secretary.

“I know I speak for my fellow veterans in thanking Secretary Hopkins for his leadership over the past three years,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia is home to more than 721,000 men and women who have served this country and Commonwealth, and Secretary Hopkins has been an unwavering advocate for our military and veterans communities. While his absence will certainly be felt across our Administration, it is only fitting that Secretary Hopkins would be stepping up to serve our nation with the Virginia National Guard. I am grateful for his dedicated service, and I wish him a safe and successful mission.”

Virginia’s Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs is the Commonwealth’s top official for coordinating state and federal resources to support Virginia’s veteran and the military community. Under Secretary Hopkin’s leadership, more than 35,000 Virginia veterans were hired through the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program, which helps transitioning service members find jobs in the civilian workforce. Secretary Hopkins has overseen a significant expansion in services for women veterans—who make up a larger portion of Virginia’s population than any other state—and has led Virginia’s efforts to increase mental health services and prevent suicide among active and returning service members.

“It has been an honor to serve alongside Secretary Hopkins these past few years,” said Kathleen Jabs, newly-appointed Acting Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs. “I am proud of all we have accomplished thus far, and I look forward to continuing Virginia’s legacy as the best state for veterans, service members, and their families.”


Prior to joining the Northam Administration in 2019, Kathleen Jabs served as Deputy Director of Management and Public Affairs at the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She retired from the United States Navy as a Captain with twenty-seven years of service and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy.

This spring, more than 500 soldiers of the 29th will begin a 10-month-long deployment in the Central Command Area of Operations as Task Force Spartan to provide leadership, command, control, and in-depth staff analysis for Operation Spartan Shield. Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division will conduct mobilization training in Maryland and Virginia and then report to Fort Hood, Texas, for the final mobilization training before deployment to the Middle East.

About the 29th Infantry Division:

Known as the Blue and Gray Division, the 29th Infantry Division is an Army National Guard operational-level headquarters located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Its origins date back to World War I and are most known for its participation in the D-Day landings at Omaha Beach in World War II. Its wartime mission is to provide mission command to subordinate brigades and forces tailored for an assigned mission. It is one of eight divisions in the Army National Guard.

The 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, and the 29th Infantry Band are aligned under the 29th. The division currently has training relationships with the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Florida and Alabama, the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team from North Carolina and West Virginia, the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade from Maryland, the 226th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from Alabama, the 113th Sustainment Brigade from North Carolina and the 142nd Fires Brigade from Arkansas.

From October 2001 to April 2002, the 29th Infantry Division was mobilized on federal active duty as the headquarters for Multinational Division (North), Task Force Eagle, in Bosnia-Herzegovina for the 10th rotation of NATO’s peace stabilization forces known as the NATO-led Stabilization Force. Task Force Eagle provided command and control for units from the Army National Guard as well as forces from more than 11 other nations.

Maryland and Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 29th Infantry Division served on federal active duty in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012 when they conducted two rotations assigned to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Afghan National Security Force Development Team. During that time they served as advisers and mentors to senior Afghan leaders with the mission to provide Afghan national army and national police subject-matter expertise to facilitate ANSF growth and development.

Prior to their service in Afghanistan, Maryland and Virginia Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division deployed overseas for peacekeeping duty in Kosovo from August 2006 to November 2007.

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Governor Northam proclaims first week in May as Virginia Public Service Week

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On May 3, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam declared May 3–7, 2021 as Virginia Public Service Week to recognize the dedication of federal, state, local, and tribal government employees in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The annual observance honors approximately 701,500 public sector employees who work on behalf of Virginia residents.

“The past year has been extremely difficult—and our public employees continue to rise to the occasion, going above and beyond to serve their communities and fellow Virginians,” said Governor Northam. “From those on the front lines to others who are behind the scenes, this week we have an important opportunity to salute the hard work of thousands of people who help make our Commonwealth the best place to live, work, visit, and raise a family.”

Governor Northam shared a new video message celebrating the more than 124,000 state employees in Virginia who are answering the call of public service with commitment, professionalism, and creativity.


In Virginia, an estimated 17 percent of the workforce is employed by the government. During Virginia Public Service Week, public agencies and institutions of higher education recognize their employees through awards and special activities. Virtual programs will be held for state employees again this year, including a special tour of the Executive Mansion grounds, a cooking lesson from Executive Chef Ed Gross, and microlearning sites.



 



“We depend on our employees and their dedication each and every day,” said Secretary of Administration Grindly Johnson. “As in years past, this week provides an opportunity for team-building, connecting, and interacting among employee teams.”

Virginia Public Service Week is also an opportunity for employees to recognize their co-workers, particularly those who volunteer through the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC) in their communities, which raised nearly $2 million in just the last year.

“Taking time to simply say thank you, whether from a manager or a co-worker, lets an employee know they are seen and what they did matters to someone else, too,” said Emily S. Elliott, Director of the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management. “It’s important that we lift each other up during challenging times and remind one another just how important and purpose-driven our service to the Commonwealth really is.”

The full text of Governor Northam’s proclamation can be found here.

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ChildSavers hosts seminar to navigate pandemic mental health challenges

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It has been a long year since the pandemic upended life last March, including for parents and caregivers.

The Richmond-based nonprofit ChildSavers aims to help parents and caregivers navigate mental health challenges amid a return to in-person learning, with solutions that include transparency and communication with children about the pandemic.

In addition to the work ChildSavers does with local schools, they also provide support for parents and caregivers. The organization is offering seminars to help caregivers plan for school reopening as well as other activities that involve interaction with others.

The first seminar took place on April 22. Four panelists shared activities they have done with their children during the pandemic, such as picnics and learning how to ride bikes. More than 60 people attended the event over Zoom and the event was live-streamed on Facebook Live. Caregivers were allowed to ask questions throughout.


Dr. Danny TK Avula, a panelist and the director of the Richmond City and Henrico County health departments, discussed the importance of vaccinations for caregivers and parents so they can resume “normalcy.”

Panelists also discussed interactions and time with their children since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Many of them have been in quarantine with their children since last March.

The Rev. Marvin Gilliam of Mount Carmel Baptist Church said he has been quarantined with his three children whose ages range from 2 to 6 years old. Children have been tenacious during the pandemic and have effectively managed their frustrations, said Gilliam, a ChildSavers community board member.

“Their vulnerability with us when something is wrong has been just incredible,” Gilliam said.

Children have struggled with loneliness and a lack of social interaction, which is needed for mental development, Gilliam said.

“The social aspect is such a key part of the developmental process that we see in the educational system for our young people,” Gilliam said. “I definitely believe that that relational piece is going to be something that our young people, while resilient, we’ll see some impacts from that as well.”

In the initial months of the pandemic, 14% of parents said their children’s behavioral health worsened, according to a June 2020 survey in the journal Pediatrics. During that same time, 27% of parents reported worsening mental health for themselves. Children’s mental health-related visits to the emergency rooms increased from April 2020 to October 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Panelists encouraged caretakers to look at the pandemic from their child’s perspective.

“It’s helping adults look at the child’s perspective and helping adults affirm the good jobs that they’ve seen kids do, helping do some unlearning of what we may have done wrong in the transition and really hitting a reset and then looking for a new normal for each family,” said Bob Nickles, program manager for school-based mental health services at ChildSavers.

ChildSavers also provides therapy to children from pre-K-12 in the Richmond metropolitan area. The organization places school therapists within high-need schools and provides children the space to get mental health assistance, Nickles said.

“They’re right there to consult with a speech therapist, a school psychologist, the school counselor, school social worker, any people who are making discipline decisions about our children,” Nickles said.

Richmond Public Schools asked ChildSavers five years ago to provide mental health care for its students. Childsavers will serve 10 schools in Richmond for the upcoming fall, according to Nickles. Most of the schools are pre-K to eighth grade, but the organization also hopes to work with high school students.

“There’ve been some really heartbreaking moments in the news lately around some of our high school-aged kids,” Nickles said. “We’d love to work more specifically in a high school space.”
ChildSavers will hold the remaining seminars on May 6 and May 13 at 8 p.m. Anyone can register by visiting Eventbrite. ChildSavers will broadcast the panels on Facebook.

The CDC also offers a COVID-19 parental resources kit on its website.

By Sam Fowler
Capital News Service

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

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AG Herring continues his effort to have Equal Rights Amendment added to Constitution

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RICHMOND (May 3, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring is appealing a lower court ruling that granted a request filed by the Trump Department of Justice and Republican attorneys general to dismiss his landmark civil rights lawsuit to have the Equal Rights Amendment recognized as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Attorney General Herring joins Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford in filing a notice of appeal today in their ongoing fight to have the Equal Rights Amendment rightfully added to the Constitution.

“The United States cannot continue forcing women to wait to be recognized as equal under this country’s founding document,” said Attorney General Herring. “Throughout the years, efforts to have the Equal Rights Amendment added to the Constitution have been met with many impediments, but every single time this movement has overcome those hurdles and come out the other side stronger than ever. To those who have sent a clear message that they do not believe in women’s equality – it’s time that you move into the 21st century.

“I will continue this fight for as long as it takes to finally have the Equal Rights Amendment recognized as the 28th amendment and added to the Constitution. It has been a privilege to take up this mantle and stand alongside those who have dedicated their lives to ensuring women’s equality in this country and I won’t let up until we are successful.”

On January 30, 2020, Attorney General Herring sued to ensure that the Equal Rights Amendment was recognized as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, following Virginia’s ratification of the ERA. In May last year, In May, the Trump Administration filed a motion to dismiss Attorney General Herring’s lawsuit, seeking to block gender equality from being added to the Constitution. In June, Attorney General Herring filed a brief opposing the Trump Administration’s motion to dismiss his lawsuit. Also last year, Attorney General Herring moved for summary judgment in his landmark civil rights lawsuit, as well as filed a brief opposing the intervening states’ (Alabama, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Tennessee) motion for summary judgment.


Additionally, in March, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to lift the arbitrary deadline on the Equal Rights Amendment.

 

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New legislation now allows local public employees to collectively bargain

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RICHMOND (May 1, 2021) – Attorney General Herring released the below statement celebrating legislation that he and his team worked with Delegate Elizabeth Guzman on that allows public employees to collectively bargain. The legislation was enacted into law today:

“Virginia’s workers are the backbone of our economy and our communities. Now, local public employees have the ability to be recognized as a labor union, allowing themselves to organize and advocate for the benefits they deserve,” said Attorney General Herring. “I am proud to have worked alongside Delegate Guzman and other labor advocates to craft this important legislation and ensure its passage. For too long, Virginia’s worker protection laws have been too weak, and I will continue this fight to strengthen protections for the people who keep our communities moving forward.”

During his time in office, Attorney General Herring says he has worked hard to protect workers in Virginia. In March, Attorney General Herring announced the designation of the Virginia Attorney General’s first Worker Protection Unit, a multidisciplinary team of prosecutors and attorneys within the Office of Attorney General, led by a dedicated criminal prosecutor, that focuses on investigating, stopping, and prosecuting individuals and businesses who unlawfully engage in worker exploitation, in addition to educating Virginia workers on their rights. As its first area of focus, the team is focusing on worker misclassification, wage theft, and payroll fraud, and work to coordinate efforts across state government with the goal of bringing cases and enforcement actions to stop worker exploitation.

 

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Upcoming Events

May
8
Sat
2:00 pm Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
May 8 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mother's Day Weekend Paint Party - Hydrangeas @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Bring Mom to The Studio for our Mother’s Day Weekend Special. Buy two tickets and save! This will be a lovely piece to add to your collections… and so much fun to paint. Join us[...]
8:00 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 8 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area – behind Mount Bleak. Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA Jet Propulsion Lab[...]
May
9
Sun
2:00 pm Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
May 9 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mother's Day Weekend Paint Party - Daisies @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Bring Mom to The Studio for our Mother’s Day Weekend Special. Buy two tickets and save! This will be a lovely piece to add to your collections… and so much fun to paint. Join us[...]
May
13
Thu
6:30 pm Law Enforcement Officers Memoria... @ Front Royal Gazebo
Law Enforcement Officers Memoria... @ Front Royal Gazebo
May 13 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service @ Front Royal Gazebo
Please join Warren County/Front Royal Back the Blue, in partnership with the Fraternal Order of Police and Front Royal/Warren County Lodge #33, during National Police Week as we honor our local Law Enforcement Officers who[...]
May
14
Fri
12:00 pm Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
May 14 @ 12:00 pm
Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Join us for the 2021 Millionaire Maker held at award-winning Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club. The Millionaire Maker is a combined golfing and networking experience! Serious, amateur, and novice golfers are welcome. *Four golfers who[...]
May
15
Sat
7:30 am Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf ... @ Bowling Green Country Club South
Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf ... @ Bowling Green Country Club South
May 15 @ 7:30 am – 3:00 pm
Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf Tournament @ Bowling Green Country Club South
Please join us for the Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for the Linden Volunteer Fire Department. The event will be held Saturday, May 15, 2021, at Bowling Green Country Club South (768 Bowling[...]
10:00 am Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
May 15 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
Bring the family and enjoy a fun day learning about the history of the French & Indian War era at the site of Colonel George Washington’s headquarters for the Virginia Regiment. Meet living history interpreters[...]
11:00 am National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 15 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Children’s Discovery Area: This National Kids to Parks Day, join us for fun-filled activities and music at our interactive discovery stations. Kids, pick up a scavenger hunt brochure and hike on the Track Trail. Just[...]
May
16
Sun
9:00 am Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
May 16 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Psychic Fair for both those who are serious and for those who are just curious. Event can be a life changing experience or just a fun time! Many of the best psychics, mediums, healers, and[...]
1:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 16 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects of beekeeping from hive construction to[...]