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