More than a few outraged citizens turned out this weekend to protest the fact that behemoth company Amazon.com, via its lackey Dominion Virginia, is attempting to seize 50 acres of land belonging to a mostly elderly African-American Northern Virginia community that dates back to slavery.
The move would pave over residents’ homes and build power lines in Haymarket, Va., negatively impacting the semirural Carver Road community’s environment and economy.
The World Socialist Web Site reports that last month, Amazon subsidiary VAData, local government agencies and Dominion announced plans to construct 230,000-volt power lines running through Carver Road in order to power nearby internet data centers.
In June, the State Corporation Commission authorized Dominion to seize the land for the towers. WSWS reports that the state of Virginia has awarded Amazon millions in tax breaks and grants to construct its warehouses and data centers. Because really, which one do you think the capital of the Confederacy is going to cape for—a multibillion-dollar company or a working-class black community?
Yet some are not taking the news lying down. There were protests outside a Dominion Energy facility in Herndon, Va., on Saturday.
“We thank all those who turned out to help protect a historic African-American neighborhood threatened by corporate greed,” said Joyce Hudson, a spokesperson for the Alliance to Save Carver Road. “This successful protest will be followed by other events until residents of Carver Road neighborhood can live their lives in peace and security.”
The Alliance to Save Carver Road expressed unease last week after Dominion Energy contacted elderly neighborhood residents. In a letter to the company, Hudson wrote, “Our elderly residents are especially vulnerable and may not be aware of Dominion’s tactics to influence the process of installing transmission lines to serve Amazon’s data centers.”
But it gets deeper and more problematic. The land that would be paved over is historically rich as well.
“The homeowners have been there for generations. Many of the properties were purchased by freed slaves,” an ASCR representative says. “After emancipation, the slaves that worked that area were allowed to purchase property. A number of the property owners are descendants of those freed slaves.”
The power lines will also pave over parts of the site of the First and Second Battles of Manassas, two key battles of the Civil War.
According to those who oppose the site, the present-day impact would be devastating. According to the ASCR representative: “There is a school that would be impacted. The construction does not directly cross the school building, but there is a school nearby. Property values would plummet. You cannot use the property. In my case, I have tenants. They have already told me that they want out of the lease if the lines come through.”
WSWS reports that the Prince William County Board of Supervisors rejected an alternative route that would have gone through a wealthier (we can almost bet whiter) area. The rejected route’s worth was also estimated at $167 million, while the one traveling through Carver Road was estimated at $62 million.
The Washington Post reports that on July 17, the same body voted to give a measly $30,000 for legal funds against the corporate giant.
By the way, the funding given by the county is roughly equal to the amount of money that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos—now the richest man in the world—makes in a single minute.