About a dozen social justice activists gathered near the Hotel Roanoke on Sunday afternoon to call on local government leaders to listen to the public.
The activists came from groups interested in a range of issues from preserving the historic Dumas Center in Roanoke to stopping the Mountain Valley Pipeline to educating voters about an array of other issues.
They picked the venue, near the Market Street bridge where people can walk to the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, because the center is hosting the Virginia Municipal League annual conference Sunday through Tuesday.
“It’s a prime time to come out and have our voices heard,” said Shmura Glenn, chairwoman of the Dumas Hotel Legacy Inc., a local group.
Activists said they planned to be present at the location through the entirety of the conference. The organizations represented included Represent Roanoke Valley, the Dumas Hotel Legacy Inc., Preserve Salem, Your Vote Your Voice Inc., Represent.US and the Poor People’s Campaign of Southwest Virginia.
The conference is an annual gathering of local government leaders and employees who get together to attend workshops, network and see exhibits for goods and services that local governments can purchase.
Activists said they hope for that kind of synergy between local government officials and the people who they represent.
“We want to start a conversation,” said David Denham, a leader with Represent.US and the Poor People’s Campaign of Southwest Virginia.
There were a multitude of conversation topics for anyone approaching the hotel.
Locally, people wanted to talk about stopping the Mountain Valley Pipeline, leveraging the city to support a purchase by Dumas Hotel Legacy Inc. of the Dumas Hotel from Total Action for Progress and curtailing corporate donations and influence on government activities.
The main goal, they said, is to educate municipal leaders about the issues people in their communities face.
A message left for the Virginia Municipal League’s President and Roanoke City Councilwoman Anita Price was not immediately returned Sunday.