Community, Cops and Courts, Latest News, State Government, West Virginia Legislature

Delegate Walker asks governor to denounce racist incidents at BLM protests in Kingwood, Morgantown

MORGANTOWN — Delegate Danielle Walker D-Monongalia, sent a letter to Gov. Jim Justice on Wednesday, alerting him to racist incidents at Black Lives Matter protests in Kingwood in Morgantown earlier this month.

She asked Justice to denounce the incidents publicly during his Friday COVID-19 briefing and to personally call her to talk with her.

As of Thursday, Walker said in a phone interview, she hadn’t heard from Justice.

The Dominion Post contacted Justice, along with House Speaker Roger Hanshaw and Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs Director Jill Upson, who were copied on the letter, for comment. Justice and Hanshaw did not respond. Upson wrote to say she was on leave on a family matter and hadn’t had the opportunity to investigate the matter.

She opens the letter by saying it’s not political. “It’s time we run to the fire as elected officials of this Mountain State…. Kingwood could have been the place I took my last breath. An angry mob of White supremacists approached us and pushed many peaceful protesters off the sidewalk.”

The protesters were called names – the N word, apes – and told to go back to Africa (Walker is from Louisiana). Some of the anti-protesters, she wrote, bore Nazi SS and swastika tattoos. Walker cut the planned program short to protect the protesters.

She wrote, “I am Black and I am proud of who, whom, and whose I am. By no means am I a terrorist. I am a voice of the voiceless. I am a truth teller. … When many of us support and say Black Lives Matter, no one has ever stated only Black Lives Matter. But Black Lives are becoming an endangered species.

I’m disappointed that you have not denounced the White supremacists that rose in Kingwood on Sept.12 and in Morgantown on Sept. 13,” she wrote. “It was embarrassing being an elected official and not allowing the list of speakers to speak because of the danger and risk of someone not returning to the starting point. … We have heard nothing from our state leaders in response to this attack on free speech.”

She concluded, “I need you to see me, protect me, and govern me with unity and solidarity. Hate is not making America Great. This Mountaineer does not feel free.”

In the phone interview, Walker said she’s since received comments from people, “What did I expect going to Preston County? That’s not fair for those residents who live there who don’t feel that their community brings it.” People assuming we are not better than this is concerning.

Walker noted some of the anti-protesters carried guns, and The Dominion Post’s story on the Kingwood protester said some on both sides had guns. Walker had no objection to the presence of guns, as this is a constitutional carry state. “Where the problem occurs is how people use the guns to distract from the hate and the symbols of hate and the racial slurs. Please don’t let the weapons be a distraction.”

She said of the Nazi tattoos and the shouts of White Power, “It is the proof in the pudding that we need some awareness and it is time for change in West Virginia and America.”

Anti-Walker videos

Walker also took the time to answer questions about some video clips about her put into circulation by her opponents. The clips, the opponents allege, show Walker is also racist.

One shows her at a June 2 BLM rally in Morgantown. In the clip, some of the words are garbled but she is talking about white privilege and telling the Black folks to Rosa Parks to stand to the front and white people get to the back.

Walker said the brief clip is taken out of context. She subsequently posted her full 10-minute speech or her delegate Facebook page and that is clearly the case.

She is telling the crowd that they know all lives matter and that’s why whites and Blacks stood together that day. As a demonstration of whites sharing their privilege, she asked them to go to the back and the Blacks to come forward. She call all of them brothers and sisters. “This is how you share your privilege,” she said.

Walker also took criticism that day, she said Thursday, from some Black attendees for protecting a white man who was facing homelessness from some negative action by the crowd. Her actions for the man are seen in the video.

But the fact she was practicing her principle of “one love” and not racism, she said, was evidenced by no one walking away and by non-Black attendees coming to her afterward to thank her.

Another video clip apparently shows Walker equating police with members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Again, this is out of context, she said. She posted that video of her sharing her thoughts right after right after George Floyd’s murder. What she was saying was that at one point we were accustomed to looking for white sheets when Blacks were abused and killed. Now some who hate Blacks wear badges or hold public office.

It was not a generalization about all police, she said.

Tweet David Beard@dbeardtdp Email