VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — There will be a protest taking place every day this month in Virginia Beach in the name of racial justice.
However, organizers with the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference say these protests won’t be distinguished by large attendance numbers. Rather, fittingly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these demonstrations will be measured by the number of protesters that are not going to two particular locations.
“We will not be spending money at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. We will not be shopping at Virginia Beach Town Center,” said Dr. Luther S Allen III, who is Senior Pastor at First Lynnhaven Baptist Church. “We’re going to make our voices heard through the withholding of our dollars.”
Allen made the announcement at a prayer vigil held Tuesday evening at Mt. Trashmore. The vigil was held in response to the homicide of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis Police, the latest high profile African American death involving law enforcement.
Joined by elected leaders and hundreds of community members of all ages and races, ministers said they would be “silent no longer.”
Ministers want the expedited creation of a citizens review board to oversee complaints with police officers. They also want to see plans that would bring about a more diverse police force as well as reforms to school discipline.
“We want to make sure that people understand the seriousness of where our community is in response to George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We want to make it known that we are willing to make those initial commitments to say ‘hey we’re not going to spend in places that are not overtly connected with what the message we are trying to put out.”
Oceanfront and Town Center businesses were singled out because of their importance to the local economy, Allen said. Several speakers say “peaceful protests” alone don’t always spur substantive change.
“One thing shown to be taken seriously is the economics,” Allen said.
This isn’t the first time the ministers have pointed to what they see as issues with the Oceanfront business climate.
The hope is the boycott, being dubbed VB Black Out 2020, brings forward businesses to put pressure on city leaders.
Virginia Beach business owners who stand in solidarity with the VBIMC and want to make their support known are asked to contact Rev. Dr. James Allen at email@example.com
“We’ll see come July 1 who is with us,” Allen said.