A letter to the mayor of Charlottesville from the mayor of Virginia Beach

People hold hands on Sunday, Aug. 13, during a unity gathering at Central Park near Town Center in Virginia Beach. The vigil brought hundreds of people to the park in support of the community of Charlottesville. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Ed. note — Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms read the following letter, dated Monday, Aug. 14, during the Virginia Beach City Council meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, Aug. 15. It is addressed to Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer in the aftermath of violence in that city. The letter has been lightly edited for style.

Dear Mayor Signer:

There are few places in our commonwealth that represent democracy more than the City of Charlottesville and the campus of the University of Virginia. There are few places that are more tolerant of and committed to defending individuals’ rights to free speech. And there are few places that have historically demonstrated greater resolve in resisting threats to our democracy.

The devastating events that occurred in your great city over the weekend are painful reminders that we still have much work to do — as a community, as a state and as a country — to drive out hatred, bigotry and violence. This one day of unrest does not define your city, but it has set the stage for your city to help define what resilience, leadership and unity look like. You have already begun that process even while you grieve those killed and injured.

I commend you, Mayor Signer, for your unequivocal denunciation of the kind of bigotry and violence we saw this past weekend. It might have happened in Charlottesville, but it touches all of us. Please know that the residents in Virginia Beach stand with you and the residents of Charlottesville. United, we will overcome this latest threat to our democracy. Hatred and bigotry will not be allowed to gain any foothold here.

However we can be of service to you in the days and weeks to come, I hope you will call on us to assist.


William D. Sessoms Jr.


Photograph © 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

The Independent News


  1. I am a graduate of UVA. I am appalled by the actions of the mayor, the police and the governor for standing down and letting this violence get out of hand resulting in a death. Where was the National Guard if it was obvious the police could not handle the situation? I would like to see some political heads roll as a result. My son who also graduated from UVA ran with the bulls in Spain a few years back. I think it would have been much more dangerous being in Charlottesville during the riot. Disgraceful!

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