City Council Generic

Daily Progress file

Charlottesville City Council, seen at a meeting last month, agreed to provide $468,000 to city schools to hire six more gifted education teachers.

Three Charlottesville city councilors were hit with a wave of anger and personal attacks after declining to allocate an additional $35,000 to bring the rapper Wale to a Unity Days event.

At Monday’s meeting, Tanesha Hudson asked the council for money to cover additional costs to have the Washington, D.C.-based artist perform at the Made In Charlottesville Concert.

The concert, which Hudson organized, focuses on local talent that would appeal to the city’s black community. It is scheduled for Aug. 18.

The request was discussed at the end of the agenda. Councilor Wes Bellamy supported funding it through the Equity Fund and made a motion to allocate the funds, which was not seconded and thus died on the floor.

Councilors Mike Signer, Kathy Galvin and Heather Hill could have seconded the motion and bring a vote. Mayor Nikuyah Walker, who stated her concerns and later said she would not have voted in favor of it, cannot second motions.

Signer, Galvin and Hill were yelled at by the small audience that remained late into the night and by those who spoke at the second public comment session. Walker, at times, attempted to quell the crowd and point out that she also didn’t support the request, but was unsuccessful.

Hudson’s project was already allocated $15,000 as part of the $100,000 the council approved earlier this year for Unity Days. That amount is the highest of any event, spokesman Brian Wheeler said.

Hudson originally planned to hold the concert at the Sprint Pavilion but was told it would cost $23,000. Wheeler said alternative dates were suggested, but Hudson decided instead to use Tonsler Park.

Hudson was approached by Wale about the concert. However, she already had used most of her money for off-duty Charlottesville police officers and other security.

“Safety is first for me,” she said.

Councilors were concerned about the nature of the request, that it was an off-budget allocation and that no details of the expenditures were presented.

Hudson and others in the crowd focused on a $75,000 allocation to the Downtown Business Association in 2018 that was approved without a formal budget. That funding request included a staff report and came after months of discussions between downtown businesses and city staff, according to the council agenda. Signer called it an “exceptional” case, which was met with disdain from the crowd.

Hudson and Bellamy said Wale would make the event even more appealing to people of color in the city.

Signer took exception to Hudson saying the council has done nothing for minorities, pointing out several expenditures, including a civil rights pilgrimage last year. Hudson countered that the trip was primarily taken by white people.

Walker, who was on the trip, said there was a “good mix” among the attendees.

The discussion veered into the city’s direction following the Aug. 12, 2017, white supremacist rally. Hudson said Galvin and Signer don’t respect Walker and the media is “telling the story wrong.”

Galvin was met with shouts when she asked staff if the city has ever paid for a for-profit entertainer.

“Last year we had snipers, this year we just want a rapper,” Marissa Turner-Harris yelled.

Walker quickly tried to show that the white councilors were not steamrolling the ideas of a black woman, saying, “This is something myself that I’ve even asked a lot of questions about, it’s not just the other councilors.”

Bellamy and Hudson said the city doesn’t offer enough events catering to the African American community and Wale would move the needle in a positive direction.

Signer focused on effective budgeting procedure.

“This is the danger, that if they become the norm, then at every meeting there are going to be one, two or three requests where people want some amount of money that didn’t get dealt with in the original budget,” he said. “The whole city’s going to have to watch the whole budget be spread out over the whole year ... We’re not going to have one budget at the beginning.”

Signer’s comments were later met with a chorus of shouts. Directing his comments at Turner-Harris, he said, “This is really how you want to do your argument? Really? That’s great.”

Activist Katrina Turner said that another issue is that the money will go to someone from out of the area when the concert was billed as local talent.

Bellamy said the event would include local artists, as well as Wale.

In the middle of the discussion, as the clock passed 11 p.m., Walker asked for a motion to continue the meeting for another 30 minutes under rules discussed at last week’s retreat. Councilors unanimously voted to extend the meeting.

Later, once Bellamy’s motion died, Nancy Carpenter shouted from the audience: “Y’all just showed your true selves and what white supremacy looks like in Charlottesville.”

“I am very disappointed with Mr. Signer, Ms. Galvin and Ms. Hill that they wouldn’t allow black culture to exist in this community. You’re talking about Unity Days,” she said later during public comment. “You three just showed me disunity and I’m very upset.”

Walker chimed in: “Well, I was in that, too.”

Carpenter continued: “No, this is not about Mayor Walker. This is about how you three could have helped to provide something.”

During final public comment, Hudson and Turner-Harris returned to the mic and lambasted Galvin, Signer and Hill individually.

“What happened tonight, this is what happens when white people are in positions of power. You just proved what we’ve been saying all along, that y’all don’t give a damn about black people,” Hudson said. “If I was white, if I was a white lady and wanted to run a white artist or something for Unity Days or I wanted to do something to cater to your people, you would pass that money with flying f{&bullet}{&bullet}{&bullet}ing colors, and you know that.”

“We were cool,” Turner-Harris said about Galvin, “but then you showed your true colors. Every time I give you a drop of faith, it dries up.”

Hill was the target of the most personal attacks. Hudson called her “so fake” and Turner-Harris said she was a “backstabber.”

“You have two sides,” Turner-Harris said. “One is the good side. ... The other side is this bulls{&bullet}{&bullet}{&bullet}that we see up here. You ain’t no snake, you’re a backstabber. Any chance you get, you stab someone in the back.”

Turner-Harris finished her remarks, saying, “Y’all three — Y’all are Hitler’s best friends. Might as well say Trump’s best friends.”

As she walked away, Signer, who is Jewish, said, “I just cannot believe I was just called Hitler’s best friend.”

Turner-Harris shouted back from the audience, “hell yeah.”

The meeting adjourned as Hill quickly exited with tears in her eyes, Signer walked out dejectedly and Galvin gathered her belongings.

City hall reporter

Nolan Stout is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274,, or @nstoutDP on Twitter and Facebook.

Recommended for you

Load comments