2017 Richmonder of the Year: The Resistance

Everyday Richmonders who decided to stand up and fight back.

Richmonders marched on Washington, they marched on Monument Avenue, they marched on Broad Street.
They rallied at the grand Virginia State Capitol, in the quiet recesses of a Jewish cemetery, on the bustling campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, at a stoic mosque on the South Side and at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

They stood up for women’s rights, basic human rights, against the Muslim ban and border wall, for sanctuary cities and affordable health care, for truth and transparency in the Russia investigation and against the newly installed Trump administration.

The cross section of people who gathered together saw no boundaries of race, age or gender. By the thousands, the Richmond resisters showed their resolve by taking to the streets and to the phones, voicing their concerns to the public and elected officials.

A resistance rose up in 2017. The people behind it, pushing onto the streets and into the headlines, are Style Weekly’s Richmonders of the Year.

Shortly after the year began, a thousand Richmonders marched on Monument Avenue. Mary Field said she came to support her four granddaughters and her women neighbors in Union Hill.

“They’re all going to be impacted by the decisions that are made the next four years,” Field said. “We’ve got to do whatever we can to support these young women. … We can’t just curl up and cry.”

A week later, by the hundreds, Richmonders boarded buses for Washington in the predawn darkness and returned 14 hours later after joining the biggest mass protest in history, rallying in support of progressive policies and against President Trump.

The public gatherings ranged from spontaneous and messy to organized and focused — and they continued throughout the year, never wavering in their intensity. Even those who fell into other areas on the political spectrum could appreciate the passion of opinions expressed and democracy intensified.

The activity also translated to political engagement. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, the youth voter turnout in Virginia surged to 34 percent this year, overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. A Democratic wave altered the Virginia House of Delegates. A recent recount in Newport News came down to a single vote, which became a tie. That led to a random selection determining control of the House — which Republicans have controlled for 17 years.

Much of that crashing blue wave in Virginia came in the form of women candidates beating their male counterparts, a rebuke of the Trump administration. Make no mistake, this Democratic momentum started in the streets by those who cared enough to get out, stand up and make their voices heard in the calamitous din that was 2017.

As part of the nationwide DisruptJ20 protests, about 200 people marched through Richmond on the evening of Jan. 20 in protest of Donald Trump’s inauguration.

More than a thousand people turned out for the March on Monument rally Jan. 14, expressing concern about how women’s rights and progressive rights would be handled under Donald Trump’s administration.

Ashley Hawkins protests at the Save Our Health Care Rally at Capitol Square on Jan. 15. “I believe health care is a human right and that this administration is a threat to our civil liberties, security and democracy,” she said. “The [Affordable Care Act] rally brought our community together in solidarity and strength. As I spoke while holding my newborn daughter, I locked eyes with the mother of a young child in a wheelchair who was cheering me on. We connected as mothers worried for our children’s health. This gave me strength and commitment to continue working for health care, because it is not just myself and my family that need it.”

Hundreds of women and men from Richmond traveled to Washington to be part of the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, Jan. 21 — one of the “largest single-day protests in history,” according to the Washington Post.

A militia group clashes with counterprotesters on Charlottesville’s Market Street. The white supremacist rally, Unite the Right, attracted groups from across the country.


Outside a town hall meeting in Chesterfield County on May 9, protesters railed against Congressman Dave Brat’s stance on repealing the Affordable Care Act. Brat supported repealing and replacing the ACA.


About 150 people gathered to express support for Richmond as a sanctuary city. Advocates rallied and spoke outside City Hall and then protested inside Feb. 13.


Abide Sindhoo places a stone on a Holocaust Memorial at Emek Sholom Memorial Cemetery at the end of the Standing Together RVA solidarity rally March 19. About 150 people, including Holocaust survivors, stood in the cold as a show of solidarity. The program was sponsored by Bonay Kodesh, Congregation Beth Ahabah, Emek Sholom Holocaust Memorial Cemetery, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, Islamic Center of Virginia, Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, Richmond Hill, Richmond Peace Education Center, Temple Beth-El, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities and the Weinstein Jewish Community Center.


Xine Bouthiller raises a fist during the opening remarks of the Muslim ban and border wall protest on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus Jan. 29.


Emily Thompson and Taylor Medley protest in front of the Robert E. Lee monument Sept. 16. The rally, which followed an out-of-control event in Charlottesville, created intense concern in Richmond. But fewer than 10 Confederate heritage demonstrators turned out. A massive police response forced a few hundred counter-protesters to navigate the barriers on Monument Avenue. Counterprotesters issued emphatic anti-racism messages to the handful of monument supporters from out of state. Many yelled at them to “go home.”


A rally at Capitol Square on March 4, which called for an end to sanctuary cities, was sponsored by Republican gubernatorial hopeful Corey Stewart. Some activists were armed, leading to tense moments with counterprotesters from ICE Out of RVA.


About 300 people rallied on the grounds of the Virginia State Capitol and marched to the federal courthouse on June 4, calling for an independent, transparent investigation into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia.


Hundreds of people gathered Feb. 5 for the Standing Together RVA solidarity and unity rally at the Islamic Center of Virginia. The event was organized by the Islamic Center of Virginia, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities and Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.


Jan. 14
March on Monument: A thousand people marched on Monument Avenue.

Jan. 15
Supporters of Obamacare Rally on Virginia’s Capitol Square.

Jan. 20
The Disrupt J20 Protest in downtown Richmond.

Jan. 21
Women’s March on Washington

Jan. 29
Muslim ban and border wall protest — Virginia Commonwealth University campus

Feb. 5
Standing Together: One Community, One Nation. The Islamic Center of Virginia, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities and Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

Feb. 13
Ice out of RVA: Sanctuary Cities Rally.

March 4
Corey Stewart: End Sanctuary Cities rally and counterprotest, Virginia State Capitol.

March 15
Downtown Protests Greet U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions: The Republican attorney general came under pressure from some Democrats and progressives to resign, because of his contacts with Russian diplomats during the presidential election.

March 19
Standing Together RVA: Remember and Respond Emek Sholom Holocaust Memorial Cemetery.

May 9
Protest against Congressman Dave Brat’s support of repealing Obamacare, in Chesterfield County at Clover Hill Assembly of God.

May 12
Muslim ban protest: A crowd of about 200 people protested the Muslim ban at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, voicing opposition to the U.S. ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority nations.

June 4
March for Truth: Around 300 people rallied on and marched from Capitol Square grounds, calling for an independent, transparent investigation into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia.

June 6
Ice’d Out: A Monday evening protest was held at the Richmond City Justice Center in support of Delmy Moran Martinez, who faces deportation.

Aug. 12
Charlottesville White Supremacist Unite the Right rally. Richmonders traveled to Charlottesville to protest against white supremacists, neo-Confederates and Nazis.

Aug. 13
Faith rally at the Reconciliation Statue in Shockoe Bottom: Richmond area faith leaders and elected officials joined hundreds of Richmonders for a solidarity rally in Shockoe Bottom following a violent clash between white nationalists and anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville.

Sept. 16
Confederate counterprotest, Monument Avenue.

Dec. 10
Confederate counterprotest on Monument Avenue.



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