Monday’s community meeting and Richmond casino debate turned a bit heated. And, if we’re being honest, it also turned a bit phallic.
Yes, Monday’s virtual meeting was flush with digital penises.
And sure, the shenanigans were juvenile. Clearly tasteless. At times offensive, even.
But they also provided a temporary distraction from an otherwise heated meeting and debate. It was the latest one for the community to weigh in on a proposed Richmond casino and its potential location.
An anonymous flyer sparks anger
In November Norfolk voters will decide on a casino referendum. If it passes, the Virginia capital will join Virginia casinos in four other cities that approved casino-resorts in 2020.
Richmond officials recently nixed three of the six formal proposals to build and develop the city’s potential casino. Three remain in the running:
- Bally’s Corporation: $650 million Bally Richmond Casino Resort
- The Cordish Co.: $600 million Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond
- Urban One and Colonial Downs Group: $517 million casino-resort (name TBA)
However, Monday’s meeting included a discussion of this “NIMBY” (not in my backyard) flyer. It’s not clear who created it (or why it included the wrong day of the week for the meeting), but some attendees blasted the racist undertones:
Not only is this sign NIMBY, but it's also racist. If they only opposed the casino, "no casino in Richmond" would have sufficed. "Build it over there" makes the message much much worse. Regardless of how one feels about the casino, this rhetoric is bad. pic.twitter.com/Mw7VUXkRYi
— Richmond Neoliberals 🌐 (@RVANeoliberal) March 29, 2021
The flyer is in reference to The Cordish Co. proposed casino. The resort would be located in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood.
Community activist Amy Wentz discussed the poster, as well as a text message she said that her friends received, during the meeting:
All my friends are texting me this text they received. If they would have put Karen instead of Jenny it would have just taken me all the way out. I need to know who is behind the flyers and texts at this point. Someone please find out. What’s really going on?! My side eye hurts. pic.twitter.com/yX57oQw4n9
— ztnew yma (@amyinthe8th) March 29, 2021
Three casino proposals, three Richmond districts
Richmond.com reporter Chris Suarez covered Monday’s meeting and wrote of the flyer:
“While the message echoed concerns that have also been raised about the other two sites, several local leaders said it appeared to imply that the casino should be located where Black-owned media conglomerate Urban One is planning to build near a marginalized community that could still be subject to those same problems.”
The Urban One and Colonial Downs Group casino-resort would be located on the former Altria Operations Center site on South Commerce Road. The site is located in the 8th District. As Suarez noted, according to the most recent data (2012), the district is only 17% White. Most of the 8th District’s residents are Black (69%) or Hispanic (15%).
However, Bally Richmond Casino Resort would be located in the 4th District, which is 65% White. Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond would be in the 2nd District (68% White). Richmond City Council members from those two districts have already publicly opposed building the casinos in their respective districts.
Voters in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth all approved casinos by 2-1 margins during Election Day 2020. However, it appears that casino proponents in Richmond will face more organized opposition this November.
A meeting rife with penises and profanity
Monday’s meeting included some heavy and heated topics. However, some trolls were focused on less-serious matters.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures, the meeting was geared toward a virtual audience. That opened the door for some mischief from online trolls.
A series of tweets told the story of the “Zoom bomb“:
Cordish Richmond Casino Proposal pic.twitter.com/0hKSGJO5dy
— skylabrva (@skylabrva) March 29, 2021
So this 2nd District casino town hall has been Zoom bombed. Not only were participants not auto muted, they appeared to be able to draw on the screen/presentation? So we got this photo and a cacophony of slurs and cussing. The Zoom room has been locked. Moving forward… pic.twitter.com/kyNCjGCbF1
— Roberto Roldan (@ByRobertoR) March 29, 2021
This 2nd District casino meeting is unbelievable at every level. The slurs of the Zoom bombers were disgusting. The penis face slide? 💀💀💀 The presenters are possibly awkward robots from the future. Comments are making it worth the price of admission.#nocasinonothanks
— HappyToBeHere (@sportschix) March 29, 2021
As of early Tuesday afternoon, the City of Richmond had not posted a recorded version of the meeting on its website.