What Charlottesville Should Be Known For

The City of Charlottesville, Virginia, has nudged the state of Virginia and the United States in the right direction for a long time.

Having lived in the city since 2005 and in the area much longer, I’ve seen and been part of some of it, including by supporting these resolutions passed by the City Council:

For Clean Elections (2012)

No War on Iran (2012 and 2020) — that first one was a U.S. first that inspired others.

No Drones (2013) — a first in the U.S. that inspired many others and made news globally.

Move the Money (2017) — part of a national movement that has continued to grow, including also resolutions passed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors with the support of Charlottesville mayors.

Divestment from Weapons and Fossil Fuels (2019) — an inspiration for other localities around the United States and beyond.

Demilitarization of Police (2020)

And this past Monday a new group of engaged Charlottesville residents persuaded the City Council to pass a resolution for a Ceasefire in Gaza. (2024)

I knew there had been many resolutions prior to these as well. I’m told there was one against the first Gulf War with huge popular support.

Molly Conger recently posted all of these on Twitter:

1971 End the War on Vietnam

1973 Condemning Nixon’s freeze on affordable housing funding

1981 For funding for defense lawyers for indigent

1981 In support of Equal Rights Amendment

1982 For nuclear disarmament

1983 For nuclear disarmament

1984 Against Apartheid in South Africa (First in U.S. South.)

2000 For abolishing the death penalty in Virginia (First in Virginia.)

2003 Against attacking Iraq

2003 Against the PATRIOT Act

2004 For the repeal of same-sex marriage bans

2006 Against same-sex marriage bans

2007 End the War on Iraq

2008 Flying Tibetan flag

2015 In suppoprt of convention for elimination of discrimination against women

2017 For citizenship for immigrants

This record is a model for what local governments can do with minimal effort to help move unaccountable state and national governments where people who lack money and power want them to go.

Local and state governments are supposed to represent constituents to higher levels of government, as allowed under Clause 3, Rule XII of the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives, also known as the Jefferson Manual because of the local Charlottesville resident who created it.

In 1967 a court in California ruled in favor of citizens’ right to place a referendum on the ballot opposing a war, ruling that “one of the purposes of local government is to represent its citizens before the Congress, the Legislature, and administrative agencies in matters over which the local government has no power.”

This approach has contributed to ending U.S. slavery, South African Apartheid, and a nuclear arms race, as well as legalizing marriage for all, protecting immigrants, and halting wars.

The latest resolution on a ceasefire in Gaza was rejected by the Charlottesville City Council at one meeting, and people promised to come back and fill the room and dominate the public comment period until it was passed. It was passed at the next meeting. Imagine if people tried this in every city and town.

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