Glenn Youngkin, the GOP nominee for Virginia governor, held a campaign event Thursday evening at a brewery at the center of a local controversy over its unintentional clearing earlier this spring of land believed to contain a historic African American and Native American cemetery.
Youngkin held a campaign kick-off event at The Farm Brewery at Broad Run in Haymarket for Christopher Stone, who is challenging Del. Danica Roem (D) in the race for 13th District House of Delegates seat this November.
The event was initially to be held at Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Shop in Haymarket, owned by Supervisor Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, but was moved due to thunderstorms.
The Farm Brewery at Broad Run unknowingly leveled the historic Scott Cemetery on their property to plant sunflowers, sparking outcry from some residents in the nearby community of Thoroughfare, a historic African American enclave founded by former enslaved people. The county cited the brewery with a zoning violation for clearing the land without a permit.
The Scott Cemetery is estimated to contain between 75 and 100 gravesites. The county and the brewery’s owners are currently working to resolve the zoning violation. By law, property owners are required to conduct archeological investigations of historic cemeteries to determine their boundaries and delineate gravesites before properties are cleared for development.
Stone said in an interview Friday that his campaign did not choose the brewery for the event and that he was not aware of the cemetery controversy prior to the venue change.
Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for the Youngkin campaign, said in an interview Friday that the venue was changed at the last minute due to thunderstorms, but declined any further comment.
Youngkin campaign spokesman Matt Wolking responded in a separate statement on Friday, saying: “While we certainly wish the county had handled this issue differently, The Farm Brewery at Broad Run is a great local business, and our campaign has been proud to support small businesses all across Virginia.”
Frank Washington, a resident of the historic Thoroughfare community, has led the charge to preserve Scott Cemetery and several other historic cemeteries in the area. In an interview Friday, Washington said he considered the campaign event "another sign of the same level of disrespect" that's been shown toward the historic cemeteries by local officials.
“This is seen as insignificant, not to all, but to some, and there’s a level of respect that’s not afforded to people of color,” Washington said. “... I find it very disrespectful, and it verifies what I’ve said from the beginning, that there’s very little value placed on the lives of the people who lie in those cemeteries and on the lives of the people who are still there today."
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors will vote Tuesday on spending about $750,000 to conduct archeological and architectural surveys of the Thoroughfare and Settlement areas and to establish a historic interpretive site for the area, among other initiatives. The steps are being taken in response to the outcry around the damage to the Thoroughfare cemeteries.
The Scott Cemetery was first recorded in the late 1990s by a local historian hired to identify and document historic cemeteries throughout the county. The cemetery was not recorded on the deed for the property, however, when the owners of The Farm Brewery purchased the 1-acre lot containing the cemetery in July 2020 at a public tax auction, according to county records.
Scott Cemetery was re-discovered earlier this year after Thoroughfare residents were blocked by the brewery from accessing a historic African American cemetery on an adjacent property that is only accessible through The Farm Brewery property. It was only after residents brought the issue to the attention of county officials that they realized the brewery’s owners had cleared the land that contained Scott Cemetery.
Stone’s campaign kick-off with Youngkin was attended by more than 200 energetic supporters. Republican nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general, Winsome Sears and Del. Jason Miyares, also spoke at the event.
The energy in Haymarket last night was incredible! @WinsomeSears, @JasonMiyaresVA, and I helped kick off @CStone_VA’s campaign for delegate in the 13th district. Please join me in supporting his candidacy so that we can bring a new day to Virginia! pic.twitter.com/BfwJd8tD9e— Glenn Youngkin (@GlennYoungkin) June 11, 2021
Youngkin gave a speech highlighting his vision to energize Republican voters in Virginia ahead of the November general election. Youngkin will face former governor Terry McAuliffe, who won the Democratic primary for governor on Tuesday.
Youngkin is trailing McAuliffe by only 2 points, 46% to 48%, according to an internal Youngkin poll published this week. The poll was conducted among 506 likely Virginia voters. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 4.4%.
Youngkin declined to speak with reporters at the event. After taking pictures and speaking with supporters after his speech, Youngkin was quickly ushered out the door by his campaign staff and into a SUV waiting near the entrance of the brewery. A campaign staffer said he would not be talking to reporters due to his busy schedule.
Youngkin also declined to speak with reporters at a May 24 rally at Montclair Tabernacle Church in Dumfries.
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