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HOLMBERG: More wounded in the battle over Monroe Park

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- “Next comment out of either of you and I’ll expel you, too!” warned Richmond City Council President Charles Samuels during Monday night’s contentious city council meeting about the future of Richmond’s central park.

Already, longtime pistol-packing council gadfly Chris Dorsey had been hauled out of council chambers and handcuffed.

Well-known anarchist Mo Karnage would publicly call Samuels a “dingo,” saying later it was the best non-expletive that came to mind. (She informed me a previous effort saw her calling the mayor a “douche cougar.”)

And 9th District Councilwoman Michelle Mosby would chastise some in the crowd about the “disrespect from the public here.”

The wounds cut unusually deep Monday. Dorsey, frequently on edge, crossed over and has been banned. Karnage, who has been slowly building a reputation as a political force, lapsed into farce again.

So it goes.  The battle for the soul of this 163-year-old, pentagonal shaped piece of parkland has been going on for 55 years, ever since the 1959 murder of prominent Richmond doctor Austin Dodson, who was robbed and beaten to death as he walked through Monroe Park to join his wife at a show.

The many vagrants (as they were called at the time) who squatted there were blamed and the city pulled up the park benches to get them to move along. Later, the park would start closing at night to thwart the many who called it home.

The 7.5-acre Monroe Park has been many things – baseball field, military camp, hospital and a popular place for protests. And it has remained a place for the homeless and hungry.

Plans to remodel the park have stalled for a generation, and a battle over a plan to finally do it has been raging for two years, including a sleep-in protest with mass arrests.

Anarchist Mo Karnage  has been at the center of the stop-it-at-all-costs opposition to any rehabbing of the park that would displace the homeless for any time.

“Gentrification and the eviction of the homeless from the park, and evicting feeding programs from the park is an act of violence,” she told me Tuesday.

She presented a plan to have their own collective take over the park instead of the city leasing it to a private-public partnership to guide Monroe Park’s future - a park preservation method used in places like New York City.

I asked her why we should trust her collective over the one the council supports. She said hers would be more diverse and less under the thumb of the mayor.

In the end, the dissent didn’t dissuade council from voting for the lease plan. “Disrupting the meeting does not resolve the issue,” Samuels warned the unsettled ones in the crowd.

Further protests are planned. Karnage posted on the anarchist collective’s website the home addresses of the mayor and several of those in the Mornoe Park Conservancy partnership who will oversee the park.  Karnage figures there’s been a line drawn in the sand, she said, and they’re not backing down.

This won’t be the first time activists have targeted the mayor’s neighborhood for attention or occupation, although you can bet the mayor and the police department are less than thrilled, especially with the listing of the home addresses of the those who have been asked to guide the park.

These tactics and antics are also wounding their cause, according to some of those who are against the park plan but are now speaking up about these higher-profile messengers tainting the message.

And there’s another irony, wrote Tom Garrett in a posting about this controversy: “In many cases, it is these progressive, activist (or at least slacktivist), arty types who embody the resistant-to-change mentality that they think they oppose.”

Both Karnage and Dorsey, no doubt, still have their supporters who see them as lone, loud voices against the empire. There will likely be a large turnout during Saturday’s Monroe Park protest.

While many others might argue, I would say this is a city, and a city council, that is very open to different ideas and voices. I’m really not sure where the thought comes from that somehow the city will freeze out the homeless and feeding programs and the rest of us just won’t care.

I’m not sure why our Central Park has to be held hostage. And I’m really not sure why we can’t let some of our amazing garden clubs lead a volunteer effort to spruce up the park ourselves, at a fraction of the cost. Just look what has been done to Libby Hill Park.

But I am pretty sure that there’s no reason for someone  like Chris Dorsey – who has consistently and loudly voiced seemingly paranoid accusations about the State Police and Capital Police being out to kill him – to bring a pistol into city council.

It’s a fine thing to call our public servants and officials  “thugs and criminals” who need to be jailed and their heads examined for “neurosis,” as Chris likes to do.

It’s another thing to froth and ramble with a pistol on your hip in a crowded room.

Finally, Chris did raise an interesting point during the confrontation with the normally reserved and helpful council point man, Steve Skinner, that led to Dorsey being bounced.

Dorsey had chosen Monday night, after all the nights he had been at council, to sit in the press box reserved for members of the media. Skinner asked him what he was doing there and Chris responded that he posted video reports on Youtube and other social media sites.

Fair point. What is the media, the press, in this era when anyone with a smart phone or laptop can file a report that can reach just as many people as the most established reporter?

That’s my take. Let’s take care of our grand park, which belongs to all of us, by the way, and not just the homeless.


  • James

    Some one has hurt you. Your posts scream for attention. You can’t respect yourself, you have so much negativity in your life. Stop hiding behind a computer, your life won’t get any better now matter how many horrible things you say about disadvantaged people or blacks.

    • Gary

      James, You are a bloody freaking idiot. “Stop hiding behind a computer”. Come on, did you not read Clotus’s post? He carries around a stack of McDonald’s applications and hand’s them out. I am Christian, but I will tell you….if they don’t try to help themselves, screw them. Get rid of the homeless and make it a park for the People that pay taxes. Not for the bums.

  • isso

    Jones and City Council act like the anarchists in their own
    government they set up to suit… in, of, by and for themselves;
    deliberately refusing We The People.
    They set up their own Conflicts of Interests and they made their
    own decisions to Serve their Consortium(s) over and above the Public/Tax Payers they were elected to serve.
    They have told We The People we have no rights, voice, will, say
    or vote.
    Maybe belligerent Michelle Mosby can’t see the disrespect
    is in direct correlation to Council’s disrespect of nullified Citizens.
    The Mayor and Council cannot Function/Operate/Govern
    without their Outside Operatives that have bought, own, operate,
    manage and run them with promises of legacy, party benefits,
    positioning and advancements.
    Who voted to make Richmond into a New York, Detroit, Chicago,
    Tampa, or Atlanta?

  • John Murden Jr.

    “Fair point. What is the media, the press, in this era when anyone with a smart phone or laptop can file a report that can reach just as many people as the most established reporter?”

    As a publisher of one of the smaller media outlets in the city (, my take is that at minimum someone needs a regular public online address outside of social media. Richmond has embraced blogs as legitimate news sources. Merely having a Facebook or Youtube account is not enough.

    As another example, Silver Persinger has shown a dedication to witnessing and sharing out meetings and events, with enough structure that he has to qualify as 1-man media operation (

  • Mo Karnage

    So there are three major flaws I see in this article.
    One is drawing any connection between Chris Dorsey and Monroe Park. I don’t believe he has said anything regarding the park, and he is not to my knowledge involved in any campaign to keep the park from being privatized.
    Two is to suggest that the poor media coverage on this meeting and the issue in general is hurting the cause or the message. My personal website, recewived over 1,000 views yesterday, more than ever before. I linked the text from the speech I delivered to City Council on news articles, which is how I got people to look at the website. So over 1,000 people had a chance to read my speech, which the mainstream media completely ignored. In fact the media continuously ignores the many valid points brought up by activists around Monroe Park, the Baseball Stadium, and Venture Richmond. So the best activists can use is take advantage of the media’s ridiculous spectacle driven coverage of events, to get our message out and to educate.
    Three is that activists are not against progress. That’s seriously bogus. No where have we said we are against change. We have explicitly stated, repeatedly, that we are FOR park renovations. We are AGAINST privatization of public resources, bad investments, and racism/classism which hurts the most vulnerable in our society. I would also argue that it is not progress to go back to the ways of oligarchy and the rich controlling everything. That seems like several steps backwards to me.
    And the protest is on Sunday, not Saturday.

  • Kathryn Leighton

    Always the trash of society trying to bring down the successful. But the right side won once again.

    Look at anyone in these videos who is considered the opposition. They all look like they climbed out of a dumpster and somehow afforded the body full of discussing piercings and tattoos. Dorsey is the only one who looks like he doesn’t live in a ditch. Maybe if you stopped trying to make daddy upset with bridge piercings that disgust most people, people might take you seriously.

    I’m not coming back to this article, but I already know what the replies will be. Personal attacks and a bunch of underachievers sitting at home rolling through a thesaurus looking for new works to make themselves feel smart. Hey kids, if I’m not right why are you responding?

    • Clotus Jones

      Well said. That’s what I meant by using the term “attention-pig”. She’s got that whole “look at me! I’m the hurt, artistic type and I’ll show you by wrecking my body” thing going on. Hope she doesn’t have kids or else the taxpayer will end up feeding and housing them because no one will hire her. They won’t be able to see anything beyond her tats and piercings. And she calls herself “Mo Karnage”. I guess I did those things too when I was a young teenager. Eventually I grew up. At the end of the day, they need to clean up Monroe Park and throw the trash, i.e., the homeless, out.

  • Kathryn Leighton

    You can tell that people like “Mo Karnage” here have absolutely NO authority in their personal lives. So they go to meetings like this where people have to listen to them. Regardless of how ignorant their opinions are. “Oh A Yea!, Well my 3 minutes are up anyway, so there!!”. It’s like watching a kid who’s parents took them to a psychiatrist and during a session they have to listen to whatever the kid says.
    “I feel like I’m in Nazi Germany because they make me wear the clothes they want me to!!”. Lol, actually, she would make a good SNL skit.

  • Kathryn Leighton

    I viewed your webpage. This doesn’ty mean I support you, or that I am even curious. I just thought it would be a funny read before work. I was right. lol

  • Kathryn Leighton

    One last funny thing about “Mo”. She is private school educated. Both grade school and College. She is what we call in the business a “Limousine Liberal”. Comes from a background of privilege. I’m not sure if it’s “daddy issues”, or that she just couldn’t make it in journalism. But she is the poster child for jokes made about young people from a background of privilege, who have the means to be “anarchists” and still fix themselves whenever they “grow up”. This is the first I have heard of her, but I will be following this. You can’t write this stuff. lol

      • Kathryn Leighton

        “Sami Beth Cohen”, That was “3 crazy comments” Not 5…
        But to answer your pointless bad math. Work was slow today and this is hilarious. So I came back to see if anyone can defend these people. All I see though are insults with absolutely no argument attached. I insult, but in the same sentence I prove you all wrong. (the “anarchists” that is)

  • Clotus Jones

    One final thought on Mo Karnage…in addition to being a limousine liberal, she also claims she’s a vegan. I don’t believe her. Vegans tend to be thin and stinky. Did anyone else notice the size of Mo’s rear-end when she was at the podium? That’s not a vegan rear-end. That rear-end belongs to someone who stuffs themselves full of processed foods and sit around all day. How does she pay her rent? Daddy? I think she’s a pathological liar.

  • Ross Dybvig

    According to the Monroe Park Conservancy’s own published plan “The ratio of non-homeless to apparently homeless ones must be at least 75-100: 1” because women are afraid of them or something. The City is selling the park to a “non profit” run by the mayor and his friends, for $1. The “non profit” is also being awarded hundreds of thousands for park renovations and millions more over the years in recurring tax revenue to pay for salaries and luxury office space. The organization that has given away food for 20 years will be excluded via a $35/event fee and provisions that each event be vetted to “fit the park’s mission”. The ad hominem attacks here are disgusting but perhaps echo the ideology driving the MPC’s planners.

  • kitty

    I say its time for a updated park…I use to go their in the 80’s as a kid ..they had a playground there…..I vote yes for a new park and homeless need to move sorry not a good look for a popular college

    • Kathryn Leighton

      Her parents probably pay her rent/mortgage as they did her tuition to private school/private college. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But “Limousine Liberals” like to keep the poor an arms reach away. Not in their yard/house.

    • Kathryn Leighton

      Her parents probably pay her rent/mortgage as they did her tuition to private school/private college. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But “Limousine Liberals” like to keep the poor an arms reach away. Not in their yard/house.

  • danny

    wow so much energy spent on a big nothing.Its Richmond,the next Detroit,ok.get a life.Give up on this dump already

  • mew

    Wow! Stop trolling the internet for people to attack. You don’t personally know any of the people you’re talking trash about, so keep your christian conservative crud and blatant hypocrisy to yourselves. But please do share what you actually know and think about the park issue itself, as that’s the purpose of this public forum!

  • mokarnage

    I also said all of this to them:…

    Charles Samuels had previously stated he was not going to allow public comment on the Monroe Park issue. This is why people interrupted or spoke off topic. It turned out that because of Parker’s expedited amendments, people were able to sort of speak on the lease, but not directly. Samuels later implied that there would be public comment on the lease, and then took that back again. I called him a dingo because he tried to chastise my mentioning Monroe Park at all during my pre-signed up for public comment section, and I was already finished anyways, so he was being kinda a dingo/dingus.

    Anyways, if you are sick of all this privatization, neoliberal, cronyism – check out the protest this Sunday April 20 at Allen and Monument at the Robert E. Lee statue from 1-5 against Venture Richmond (sponsoring the Easter parade), privatizing Monroe Park (protest is across the street from 1643 monument where Alice Massie lives), the construction of a baseball stadium in shockoe bottom and public expenditure on it. Since it is Easter, I’ll be asking, What Would Jesus Do?

  • hayesdgouger

    i am a white middle class male and i am against venture richmond privatizing monroe park, which should be turned into a community garden like Mo Karnage proposed. go spiders!

  • Sami Beth Cohen

    Maybe you shouldn’t refer to homeless people as trash. Are you a Christian? How hardened is your heart to human suffering? I am truly disgusted by people like you. I spent last Friday night feeding the homeless at a friend’s church. Have you ever spoken to a homeless person or considered what it takes to reach that point in your life? It’s rewRding and uplifting to treat people with dignity, but I guess you wouldn’t know since you’re busy calling people fat on the internet like a fucking mididle school girl.

  • Sami Beth Cohen

    Maybe you shouldn’t refer to homeless people as trash. Are you a Christian? How hardened is your heart to human suffering? I am truly disgusted by people like you. I spent last Friday night feeding the homeless at a friend’s church. Have you ever spoken to a homeless person or considered what it takes to reach that point in your life? It’s rewarding and uplifting to treat people with dignity, but I guess you wouldn’t know since you’re busy calling people fat on the internet like a fucking mididle school girl.

    • Clotus Jones

      As a taxpayer I get tired of funding the dregs of society. They reproduce like cockroaches and then wash their hands of any responsibility. They are worthless.

      • Sami Beth Cohen

        You’re a fucking peach. An ignorant, hard-hearted, hateful peach. I hope when times are tough for you that you receive as much kindness, respect and compassion as you show to those less fortunate than you.

  • manalishi

    “And 9th District Councilwoman Michelle Mosby would chastise some in the crowd about the “disrespect from the public here.” Should i assume this tart would want us to believe that the council is respectable?

  • John

    Arresting homeless people for sleeping in a park is pretty bad I think. They need a safe place to lay their head, and a park should be safe. These people are at the very bottom, and it is terrible how some seem to be the kind to give up on these people. Has anyone here actually gone to that park and ask a few of them why they may be there? I didn’t think so. They are still Americans.

  • CB

    The Wingnut group actually does help the homeless in various ways, to include organizing meals.

    I came to Richmond for VCU and stayed because I loved the city. I never felt threatened by the homeless in Monroe Park, but instead felt sympathy for them. If you actually took the time to talk to some of them, you’d be surprised by what’s happened for them to be in their current situation. The homeless are often the soldiers you once touted support for, now homeless veterans, or neighbors who fell on hard times when the economy went down the drain. These aren’t “cockroaches,” they’re people. They deserve to be treated like people. I’m pretty sure the folks who hold themselves in a higher echelon than these “vagrants” could likely lend a hand in assisting them and being a positive part of the community.

    I’m pretty surprised by the number of personal attacks by those who seem to think they’re better than the so-called “vagrants” of this city. How about, instead of the personal attacks against those who are trying to assert positive change, you get out there and help make positive change?

    I don’t really expect any constructive comments following this post, given how the recent posts have gone, and I’m sure ill be told I shouldn’t side with Mo Karn or some lecture about her coming from privilege, but it doesn’t matter. This isn’t about Mo, or her privilege, it’s about our community.

  • John

    Yes they should close that park at 8 PM but if your homeless you would be able to stay, they need a safe place to stay since code enforcers are telling them also, that they can’t sleep in storage rental units, where do they go? Somewhere in the woods or worst? And then kids learn from their parents, and then you have some rich kid and his friends beating up on these poor people till some have died, we have all seen it, kids beating them up because there homeless. That’s why they need their park, ever look at it that way?

  • Kuzzen Wyldweed

    While I would have preferred some straight reporting on this issue, it was still a nice editorial, Mark. I guess true Journalism is dead and everyone with a smartphone is a media affiliate.

    • Alan Lankford

      Yes…yes…perhaps we could concentrate them all into some sort of camp there. It’s a novel idea.

  • Tim Morley

    Kudos to Ms. Karnage for taking on City Hall. I’ve realized for some time that the media in general, especially the national media, are political toadies. Props to Holmberg for giving us some background and perspective. I don’t have a solution for the Park issue, but I do think respectful discourse is more important in addressing it. Similar, but with tremendous and far reaching effects, is the Mayor’s ill conceived plan to spend millions on a baseball facility in Shockoe Bottom. Some effective digging by the media may well turn up “funny business” in the financial/ political motivation of those involved and their cronies. Follow the money. Council has a reputation for legal, yet surreptitious dealings. Transparency seems to be a much touted, yet little realized quality in our elected officials. The “we have to pass it so we can find out what’s in it” mentality has no place in our government.

  • Alan Lankford

    All you people calling those less fortunate than you “trash” or “cockroaches.” You do realize that y’all are the exact same type of people who condoned the slave trade, committed the Holocaust, and hell, crucified the man you claim is your Lord and Savior? Bigoted, hateful, small-minded, reactionary. You can mock people like us all you want, call us fat, ugly, whatever. It doesn’t matter. History will vindicate us.

    • Kathryn Leighton

      It’s funny how the typical hipsters on here always refer to anyone who isn’t poor as “more fortunate”. Yes, sometimes people are born into privilege. (like Mo Karnage) And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you’re not an a**hole. But in many cases, people work for what they have. And if they believe that everyone else should do the same, what business is it of yours? I for one am not here to help. I went to a public college (with the help of scholarships and working) Then I worked a thankless job for minimum wages just to build the experience in order to move up. Which I did. Now I have no debt, a job which I am excited to go to every day and no financial worries. I was not “fortunate”. I just did what everyone else can do, but don’t. Whether they are too lazy or make bad decisions that prohibit them from the opportunities that are available to everyone.

      So again, I am not here to help. Make yourself, or deal with it yourself. It’s not my responsibility to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves.

      • Alan Lankford

        Yes, it is very comforting to tell ourselves that all our successes come from our own inherent worth, and that everyone in a place of suffering is there because they put themselves there. It feels good to believe in a just world where people get what they deserve, and it absolves us from a great deal of responsibility. Unfortunately, such a view simply does not jive with reality, and you would know that if you bothered to do one iota of research into the matter. You won’t though. It might make you feel uncomfortable, and god knows we wouldn’t want that.

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