Home 2017 Races The KKK came to our community; my rep was silent. Here’s why...

The KKK came to our community; my rep was silent. Here’s why that matters.

Image from Cville Weekly

On Saturday, the KKK came to our community.

But as I’ve come to expect from the wonderful milieu of people that make up the 58th District, and the greater Charlottesville area as a whole, the response against their hatred was overwhelming.

In my district, people from as far away as McGaheysville and Elkton came to the counter-events yesterday; thousands of people showed up to the counter events (beautiful gospel music at the Jefferson School, a picnic and kids’ events at the IX Park, Boyd Tinsley’s band highlighting a free concert on the Pavilion, et cetera), and over a thousand directly across from the forty or so KKK members who demonstrated for a handful of minutes before scurrying away to a planned cross burning they had in Culpeper county.

Despicable. And roundly lambasted by our area’s elected officials… except for a couple of notable exceptions. Chiefly, for me, is my opponent- Delegate Rob Bell, two-time candidate for state Attorney General, leader of the entire Republican House re-election effort in the Commonwealth of Virginia this fall, and the top-billed member of the Donald J. Trump leadership team in Virginia.

Though the district I’m running to represent doesn’t hit any of the downtown area of Charlottesville (having been maliciously gerrymandered to ensure that was the case), the city is a locus of our region. A vast majority of the folks from my district either work, shop, play, visit the doctor there, so forth and so on. Rob and I both work in Charlottesville; heck, Rob’s fancy party tag says it all: (R-Charlottesville). But regardless of all of that, what happens with Cville affects all of us.

So it’s an incredible understatement to say it was disheartening to not hear him speak up vociferously against it.

Now, I know what the counter-argument to this is going to be already- the KKK wanted attention. The more we give them, the stronger they get. And I happen to agree with that; you can even see it from the videos from the event. As the KKK people got chanted at and stood up to, they were almost gleeful, eating off the righteous anger from the crowd. Like any trolls, they relish causing strife and discord above all else. But it doesn’t take much to send out a press release, slap up a statement on your Facebook page (even a recycled one from May, like Tom Garrett did) to join other politicians in roundly telling these jerkoffs that their brand of despicable nonsense isn’t what our community is about.

And yet… nothing.


Does that mean I think Rob’s a racist, or a KKK-enabler? Not in the slightest. What he is, though, is a career politician; he’s been doing this for almost two decades now. There’s a reason the Trump campaign loudly shouted his name alongside the phrase “Trump values are Virginia values” last fall; which is the same reason he was put in charge of saving the House of Delegates for the Republicans this fall. Because he’s been there and done that, as the consummate insider, one of the reasons he was so early and vocal about his support for Ed Gillespie this year.

So he knows exactly the impact that small gestures from politicians can make. Heck, the chairman of the Virginia GOP recently went after me personally on Twitter, and made that point exactly in declaring my opponent the “hardest working man in politics”. Because Rob’s notorious for his “small gesture” politics.

Why is he considered great on schools by a lot of folks- even though he refuses to fund them appropriately, keeps pushing for no-accountability charter schools, and argues Arizona-style education requirements are what we need in Virginia (teachers don’t really need a college degree, anyway)? Because every time Johnny makes the honor roll, his parents get a letter from Rob, congratulating them.

Why has he avoided accountability for his role in the “transvaginal ultrasound” law, pushing for a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, or the “Day of Tears” law for shaming women he proudly supported this year? Because when you get in the local news for volunteering in a community event, you get a clipping of it in the mail- “I was reading the newspaper and saw this, thought you might want it!”

That’s why people’s eyes bulge and their mouths go agape every time I mention not only that he was atop Trump’s leadership team here in Virginia, but he’s become close enough to the Trump family (due to the Trump Winery’s location in my district) he was invited to spend election eve with Ivanka in Northern Virginia. Because they’ve associated those “small gestures” with his persona as a politician- and not what he’s done or voted for in the General Assembly.

That’s exactly why his absence of leadership now is so disappointing. Because it’s coming from someone who’s an expert on knowing how much little touches from a politician can mean to people- and how to make sure he never misses an opportunity to get one in.

But that cuts both ways. Because that means when he chooses to avoid making any of the “small gestures” that have come to define him as a politician…

His silence is deafening.

Kellen Squire is an emergency department nurse from Barboursville, Virginia, running for the Virginia House of Delegates in the 58th District this fall. Donate, volunteer, or get the word out about our people-powered campaign today.

  • Edward N Virginia

    We were glad to carry ‘Kellen Squire’ signs at the Scottsville Independence Day parade. We were in the good company of Senator Deeds, Supervisor Randolph, and School Board member Koeszar, and others! We made a point of going up to Mr Bell – as he ALWAYS does at this parade, walking the entire parade, ringing a big bell! A great meme to associate his name with the general good feeling of the parade and the day! He’s smart and in our many meetings with him genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say. You’ve identified his ideological edge, but in many ways, and many places – as we’ve described – that ‘edge’ is not outfront to threaten or to offend people/voters. Please consider advancing your case and cause by caring to listen to people in small things and small concerns – the ‘small gestures’ – while also proclaiming your concerns and commitments in the ‘great gestures’ of law making, policy and system change. You can win if you do both. Respectfully, rural folks in Scottsville District.

    • Bill

      This is good advice for Kellen. Rob Bell is everywhere and voters like him. Even a lot of Democrats like him, he always listens and respectfully disagrees.

      Trying to paint Rob as a Trump extremist isn’t going to work and Kellen doesn’t seem to be willing to outwork him. Looks like we know where this race is heading…

  • Bill

    “Because every time Johnny makes the honor roll, his parents get a letter from Rob, congratulating them.”

    Yea f*** that Rob Bell guy for making our kids feel special.

    • You apparently skipped over the preceding sentence: “even though [Bell] refuses to fund them appropriately, keeps pushing for no-accountability charter schools, and argues Arizona-style education requirements are what we need in Virginia (teachers don’t really need a college degree, anyway)”

      • Bill

        Kellen should learn some manners instead of criticizing Rob Bell for his.

        • I’m not criticizing Mr. Bell for that; far from it! I mention precisely that people really and honestly enjoy those small touches; and he clearly knows that firsthand. Which is why I was very disappointed when he didn’t do that about the folks who came to town on Saturday… who also didn’t approve of this post, which they made known to me in a phone call I received this afternoon. Anyway, since he’s aware people look up to those sorts of things from leaders, it would have meant a lot to have him join the chorus that even Mr. Garrett chimed in on. Sadly, he chose not to.

          • God b watching U

            As you would know Mr Squire, Albemarle County officials have purposefully avoided having anything to say about TWO YEARS of the City’s ridiculous charade of democratic process about statues. And a good thing! The City’s ‘Jim Crow’ era Charter is a big part of the White Supremacy problem that they avoid speaking of because it suits Democratic Party elitist/supremacist purposes (SHAMEFULLY, shouldn’t we day?!). The Charter does not provide for ‘district’ elections of City Councilors IN ORDER to assure WHITE CONTROL of the electoral process. AND so, it has! And along with WHITE CONTROL of the City’s electoral process City neighborhoods remain horribly segregated – by race and color, by class and income, by quality of housing and affordability of housing. City Councilors knowing their UTTER FAILURE to remedy these continuing legacies of ‘Jim Crow’ DISTRACT by having festivals, by proclaiming their interest in foreign policy matters, in the Paris Climate Agreement, and by trumpeting their ‘world class’ this’s and that’s. AND when those distractions grow weak they tried ‘statue’ distractions. This is transparently clear BECAUSE Councilors could have rather simply held a couple Council meeting, discussion renaming the Parks, and done so …. YEARS AGO, or last year. Why wait until this year!? They could have done the same strategy with discussion removing the statue Lee. OH, and btw, why didn’t they vote to remove the statue of Jackson? OH, well that goest back to the County: BECAUSE the City desperately needs County Courts to stay in the City limits and ‘Jackson/Justice’ park is on Court Square where County Courts currently are. Many in the County are pleading for County Supervisors to move the courts just as soon as possible! And to demand that the $15MILLION and more EACH YEAR that the good people of the COUNTY GIVE AWAY to the City be deployed for common interests such as affordable housing, multi-modal transportation, etc. BECAUSE once again the City – having by now gotten the gift of nearly $300 MILLION from the good people of the County have accomplished little lasting with it. So City Council is not only playing games with public health and public safety – through its many and ridiculous and dangerous failure bringing on what happened Saturday and what comes next – they are also utterly wasteful with the gift of $15MILLION EACH YEAR from the good people of the County. Mr Squire; YOU CANNOT win County voters enough to win Mr Bell’s seat by making out that City Council exhibits a model of good governance: it is not!

            Also, in the same mode of discussion – about what County/rural know about what is going on – ‘lowkell’ and everyone else should stop their implicit accusations that rural people are stupid and hateful, and that he/she/they know better than what rural people know. Such attitudes violate the threshold of trust building with voters. And Mr Squire, you would be wise, please, to remember that most of your district is rural and that the voters will not vote for you unless they trust you. And, as you said, Mr Bell is many strides through the threshold of trust. REMEMBER, many people will NOT vote for people they don’t trust, even if they agree with them on points of policy, and even if they disagree with the opponent on points of policy. YOU MUST, please, get TO the threshold of trust … to knock on the door ….because you’ve not done enough so far. PLEASE do.