A town-hall-style meeting Tuesday night about a proposed de facto day-labor work center in Centreville was expected to be fiery.
It wasn’t just fiery. It got ugly.
The two-hour-long meeting was organized by Fairfax County Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) to gather community opinion about a planned day-labor center — privately funded and staffed by church volunteers — at the Centreville Square Shopping Center. Nonprofits and church groups have said a work center could address concerns from stores and neighbors, who say the bands of Guatemalan immigrants who look for work near shops and the nearby public library are intimidating and a nuisance.
At several points, many in the crowd of at least 300 in the cafeteria of Centreville’s Centre Ridge Elementary School snickered, sneered and yelled at each other and at Frey, who moderated the forum.
One man yelled, “You lie!” at Frey when he began speaking about Fairfax County’s partnership with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement jail programs. At another point, a shouting match erupted between a speaker and Frey, a moderate Republican who has represented the Sully section of Fairfax County since the district was created in 1991.
“I’m not going to claim this is an end-all,” Frey said. “Do people feel like moving the workers to a location that’s less visible and less prominent, where it could be controlled? Does it make it better?”
The question was met with a chorus of boos.
Way to problem solve. NOT! This is the very kind of behavior that ‘howlings has been disdainful of–thug mentality. Where was the discussion? Where was the listening? Where was the courtesy?
Obviously there is a problem with day laborers in Centreville. If a group is willing to assume responsibility for managing the problem, then why not at least hear them out. It seems better to do something rather than nothing. It seems better to listen and to try new things rather than to just sit around and bitch, piss and moan about something one has very little control over.
Hats off to Michael Frey for looking for solutions to a thorny problem. Lastly, it is hard to respect any opinion when the delivery system is a series of boos and hisses. Intimidation is a bad form of government.
[After looking at some footage provided by Rick, perhaps all conversation was not stomped out. I will reserve judgement on what was said in the post until someone sees a video of the the entire town meeting.]