The Fredericksburg City Council has passed a three-phase plan to address racial inequality and respond to the recent protests.
For the past three weeks, protestors have taken to the streets of Fredericksburg calling for police reform and highlighting the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.
“We as a council are making a commitment to listen and to make real, lasting change,” Mayor Katherine Greenlaw said.
The response and recovery plan the council passed has three phases: immediate (next three to six weeks), intermediate (June through the end of August), and strategic planning (September through January).
In the first phase, the next couple of weeks will be a continuation of incident response and emergency management. An incident management team will be formalized and start meeting regularly as well.
The goals of this phase include a complete review of the use of force from May 31 into the first week of June. A review by the Citizens Advisory Panel and a Professional Standards investigation is set to investigate incidents involving teargas and use of force.
An independent review of the Fredericksburg police use of force was largely requested in the nearly two hours of citizen comment time at the June 23 meeting.
In the second intermediate phase, the council plans to work on “actionable proposals” and criminal justice reform.
Finally, in the third phase, the council will focus on “laying the groundwork” to address racial inequality throughout Fredericksburg. This will be a focus of discussion at the October council retreat.
There will be “whole of community” meetings that will allow community stakeholders to provide input on addressing racial divisions.
“They’re things that happen all the time that can be fixed,” said Ward 4 Representative Charlie Frye.
The renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway was also a discussion point.
All members of the city council expressed their support for the renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway.
“I’m going to ask that in July we consider a resolution that supports a name change,” said At-Large Representative Kerry Devine.
The city can rename the portion of the highway that runs through its borders, but they have to go through the Commonwealth Transportation Board for approval.
“I don’t think we should wait for [the state], I think we should be leaders for our region, and maybe the state will follow,” said Ward 3 Representative Timothy Duffy.
The council at this point hasn’t decided on a particular name to change Jefferson Davis Highway to.
“I think its critically important that we take opportunities to name things in our community after people who have served at pivotal times in our history,” said At-Large Representative Matthew Kelly.
Should the highway be renamed, the businesses that are located along it would need to change their addresses to reflect the new name.
“Even though we want to do this quickly, we have to make sure that we give the businesses time to do all the things they need to do,” Ward 2 Representative Wililam Withers said.
In response, Greenlaw said, “We’ll find a way to help them with that too.”
In nearby Prince William County, Woodbridge District Supervisor Margaret Franklin on June 16 called for renaming the portion of Route 1 between Quantico and Occoquan.
Most of U.S. Route 1 in Virginia is named for Davis, who was president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865. Portions of the highway, including a half-mile section of the roadway in Falmouth, and the portion of the highway that runs through Fairfax County, is named Cambridge Street and Richmond Highway, respectively.