2 national conferences coming to Richmond

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 6/16/2017, 1:21 p.m.
Richmond is becoming common ground for liberals and conservatives. This weekend, hundreds of anti-war activists are expected to flood into ...

Richmond is becoming common ground for liberals and conservatives.

This weekend, hundreds of anti-war activists are expected to flood into Downtown to push their agenda of bringing the troops home and silencing war drums in the administration.

And in August, the conservative Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy arm of energy billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, will hold its 11th Annual Defending the American Dream Summit in the heart of the city.

What’s making Richmond so attractive to such polar opposites?

Maybe it’s because the city is the epicenter for a closely watched governor’s race, the first big election contest since President Trump was elected and a potential harbinger for congressional races next year.

Maybe it’s Richmond’s growing reputation as a hot spot for restaurants and craft beer.

Whatever the reason, such events are expected to be good for hotels, restaurants and other city businesses.

First up is the three-day conference that the United National Anti-War Coalition — an umbrella group of 80 organizations — is sponsoring at the Greater Richmond Convention Center this Friday, June 16, through Sunday, June 18.

The theme: “Stop the Wars at Home and Abroad: Building a Movement Against War, Injustice and Repression.”

The event is billed as the place activists can seek to build alternatives to political parties that have gotten the United States involved in war and created economic insecurity and a climate where African-Americans are fearful of death at the hands of police.

The conference will feature panel discussions and workshops for people who oppose all U.S. wars and interventions overseas, according to Phil Wilayto of Richmond who is coordinating the event.

The event wraps up Sunday with a march to Richmond’s African Burial Ground to show support for setting aside 9 acres of Shockoe Bottom as a memorial park to the enslaved people who were bought and sold in Richmond before the Civil War.

At least 16 national speakers, ranging from Ajamu S. Baraka, the 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate, to Kevin Zeese, a lawyer who has been on the front lines on issues ranging marijuana legalization to opposition to the Iraq War.

At least 10 Virginia activists also will be laying out their views, from Adeeb Abed, founder and president of the Arab-American Association of Central Virginia, to Whitney Whiting, an outspoken opponent to Dominion Energy’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Mr. Wilayto said speakers also will be from other countries, including Canada, Colombia, the Philippines, Poland, Hungary Ukraine and Venezuela.

Details: www.unacconference2017.org or DefendersFJE@hotmail.com.

Americans for Prosperity then will hold its conference from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Richmond Marriott in Downtown.

The event is billed as an opportunity “for limited government advocates to come together, sharpen skills and build relationships that can have meaningful impacts on public policy.”

Hundreds are expected to attend the program, which will focus on health care reform, educational choice, taxes and spending and regulatory reform.

No conference speakers are listed on the website of the organization. According to the website, the organization has staff in 36 states and 3.2 million supporters.

Information: www.defendingthe dream.com.