Disrupting Bloomberg, Black Woman Asks Virginia to Confront Racist Systems

On Saturday, February 15th, Richmond for All members protested outside of the Virginia Democratic Party’s Blue Commonwealth Gala. One of our co-founders, Jasmine Leeward, attended the event in Richmond. A security officer escorted her away for posting a simple, yet provocative question on the podium as Presidential primary candidate, Michael Bloomberg, gave opening remarks to address the state’s democratic majority and its donors and allies. That sign read:

“He protects racist systems. Will you?”

Two days later this is what she has to say:

I attended the Blue Commonwealth Gala with one question in mind: How long will the self-prescribed progressive leaders in that room be silent accomplices to the destruction of Black lives? Since Saturday night, over one million people have watched the video of our action. It’s clear to me that I am not alone. Democratic voters, both in and out of Virginia, in and out of the U.S. South, are wondering the same.

Bloomberg has a long and documented history of abusing Black, Latinx, Muslim, immigrant and working-class families. The 2020 Democratic Primary calls a central question for the future of the Democratic party, particularly in the U.S. South. Will we be the party of working class people and people of color, or will we be an accomplice to encroaching destruction of democracy where ballots and elected seats can be bought and paid for by billionaires?

Bloomberg’s spending in Virginia reflects the historic alliance between moneyed interests and white supremacy. Within Virginia we are fighting for control of our party, which we are seeking to liberate from corporate spending. That same system has structured primaries around early, predominantly white states like Iowa and New Hampshire, allowing only a billionaire to compete in the south while other primary candidates must focus on the Northeast and Midwest.

In short, Bloomberg represents everything we are fighting. I find a disciplined hope in grassroots movements like Richmond For All who recognize our right and duty to contest for political power. We are winning.

Those of us who understand how critical it is for progressive southerners to get organized have been pushed to intervene and demand better from anyone who calls themselves a leader in the party. We challenge every legislator, voter, donor, and resident who purport to act in solidarity with Black people and Black interests to do better, and quickly. We are fighting for the liberation of all people.