School Board Member’s Family Subjected to Racist Threat

FlagThe ugly specter of racism emerged from the sewer again in Prince William County, this time to threaten the family of Potomac District School Board representative, Justin Wilk.  Mr. Wilk’s wife recently found in the family’s mailbox a Confederate flag with the words “N*$%&R LOVER” painted on it in black lettering.  Wilk has confirmed the event and indicated that it has been reported to police, but declined to comment further.


Wilk was presumably targeted because he made the motion at the March 2, 2016, School Board meeting that resulted in the School Board voting 8-0 to name a new school after late firefighter Kyle Wilson and rename Mills E. Godwin Middle School after county resident George M. Hampton. Very quickly after the vote, the online conversation about the School Board’s action deteriorated on news web sites and Facebook.  Alongside legitimate complaints about a lack of community input on the Godwin name change, were comments filled with racially-tinged rhetoric.  Some, for example, expressed their outrage over the name change by inexplicably complaining that too few black people had come to a recent public funeral.  Among supporters of Wilk are some who have been quick to suggest that the over-the-top rhetoric of the online conversation may have contributed to someone putting the Confederate flag with the racial epithet in Wilk’s mailbox.


16 comments on “School Board Member’s Family Subjected to Racist Threat

  1. -

    Why would anyone be surprised about this when we have an outspoken bigot as chair of the BOCS.

  2. -

    I don’t think the chair of the BOCS is a bigot, although his connection to Trump certainly gives me pause. He’s probably not aware of this incident, but when he becomes aware of it he would be providing a service to the community if, unlike Trump, he spoke out strongly and unequivocally against it.

  3. -

    It is unconscionable that in 2016, something like this would occur. Both major parties and their elected officials in PWC should immediately condemn this act.

  4. -

    whoever did this should be found and prosecuted. It’s a federal law violation to tamper with a mail box

  5. -

    School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers posted this statement on his public Facebook page:

    March 14, 2016
    A statement from Prince William County School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers:
    “Reasonable people can disagree on a subject.
    The School Board meetings are a place where people can see how the governing of the school system operates. We provide a time for citizens to comment. During that time, the school board will listen to all citizens who wish to speak before us in a civil manner.
    That won’t change.
    However, due to at least one recent event it is important to know that the School Board will not be intimidated, in public or private settings, through overt acts of intimidation and even racism. We are elected by the people of Prince William County to use our best judgment on any particular topic knowing that with every decision we make some will agree and some will disagree.
    As the Chairman I will defend the right of any School Board member to vote their conscious — even when it disagrees with mine. I will use the full power of my position to protect my fellow School Board members in doing their job as elected officials.
    Lastly, I would like to thank the Prince William County Police Department for their prompt and thorough attention to this matter and pledge my willingness to help your investigation in any way possible.”

  6. -

    There is no excuse for what was done to Mr. Wilk’s family. It’s unfortunate that racists have decided to come down on the side of those who don’t want to see a name change at Godwin. There are some of us who have concerns about the name change who are not racists however. Another blog has posted a lot of information about George Hampton that challenges his educational credentials, his military service and his philanthropy. That concerns some of us.

  7. -

    There is a lot of false information and innuendo being circulated online about George M. Hampton by bloggers and other people who are less than honest and whose motives are suspect. As School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers has said, George Hampton is being honored with a school name for his service to Prince William County. As for the accusations being lodged by some online, here are the relevant facts concerning Mr. Hampton:

    Military Service of George Hampton:

    • Served in U.S. Army, 1951-1971
    • Commissioned 2nd Lt. 1951
    • Korean War Veteran (1952 – 1953); Bronze Star Recipient
    • Korean Demilitarized Zone (1954)
    • Ft. Benning, Georgia, Company Commander Infantry School
    • Voluntarily Transferred to Air Defense Artillery
    • Edgewood Arsenal, MD Battalion Staff
    • Maryland, Commanded Missile Site
    • Transferred to Europe to Air Defense Artillery Battalion Staff
    • Military Advisor, South Korea, 1967-1969
    • Awarded Legion of Merit
    • Retired from U.S. Army, 1971

    Association with the Marine Corps:

    • Co-director of the USMC Human Relations Instructor School in San Diego (Sep. 1971-April 1972); Civilian Position
    • Worked at the USMC Leadership Department at Marine Corps Base Quantico (1974-1977); Civilian Position

    Educational Credentials:

    • Bachelor’s Degree, North Carolina A&T
    • Master’s Degree, Virginia State
    • Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland
    • Adjunct Professor, Pepperdine University

    George M. Hampton Scholarship and Community Action Foundation, Inc.

    • Established in 2005 in honor of George M. Hampton
    • Has raised more than $100,000 for scholarships and awards

    • -

      The board voted for a “Dr.” Hampton who has a doctorate in Education from the University of Central Arizona. I noticed you deleted this from his resume. Are you saying it is morally right to name an academic institution after someone who has inflated his academic credentials for over 35 years? What type of message would this send to students?

  8. -

    Honor George Hampton,

    How come you didn’t list George Hampton’s Doctorate? It’s validity appears to be an issue which needs to be resolved. Its connspicuous absence from your list causes one to wonder.

    It could also affect naming a school after him.

  9. -

    @Fair question:

    I did not list George Hampton’s doctorate because people have been using what happened at that school against him as if it is somehow his fault. George Hampton received that degree almost 40 years ago in 1979. His professional accomplishments with the Army and the Marine Corps, and his adjunct professorship at the University of Maryland and Pepperdine University all occurred before he received the doctorate and therefore played no role whatsoever in those professional achievements. His later professional activities were all appointments by various governors.

  10. -

    Dale City Resident,

    I don’t think it’s fair to attack George Hampton by saying he inflated his academic credentials. According to what’s available on-line the school that gave him a doctorate issued them to more than 20 other people and then was shut down for allegedly defrauding consumers. One of those consumers would have been George Hampton, who did the required work, paid the tuition, and then had his degree made essentially worthless by the actions of the school. Maybe you can argue that he shouldn’t call himself “Doctor”, but he did the work and was issued a degree and never hid where it came from. The later status of that school is not a valid reason for using innuendo to then question the validity of his military service, the foundation named in his honor, and his service to our community. The blogs that are doing so are engaging in character assassination to try to stop an action they didn’t like.

  11. -

    First and foremost, Dr. Hampton, received a doctorate degree forty years ago. He and others attending that university received an authentic degree based on high-level work activities prior to its closure. He has never withheld his attendance. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, the degree status of an individual is not a part of the school naming policy for Prince William County Schools. In fact school names do not include the title, or rank of individuals. Thus schools are named Martin Luther King instead of Dr. King, Charles Colgan, instead of Senator Colgan, Gravely instead of Admiral Gravely. This school will follow the same tradition.

  12. -

    The racism Justin Wilk experienced runs deeper than people think in Prince William County. It just typically isn’t as blatant. I remember staffing the polls in 2008 with a group of elderly, white Republicans. They were complaining to voters that Barak Obama did not regularly use his middle name, which is Hussain, and asking Democrats why he didn’t. One person responded that they didn’t typically use their middle name either and that a lot of people don’t and pressed them why they thought Obama should. They responded that he should so that people would know his middle name is Hussain. It was clear that they wanted to emphasize that his middle name was Hussain because it would sound foreign and Muslim, and might scare people who are ignorant, or because it would play into the ridiculous and false stories that Obama is actually secretly a Muslim. These were otherwise nice people, but their views and tactics about Obama were horribly racist, because they refused to accept the facts about his identity and peddled false stereotypes designed make him seem “different” than “us.” They would probably claim to their dying day that they were not being racists. Unfortunately, Prince William County has lots of such people.

  13. -

    How much of George Hampton’s success was leveraged by a degree awarded for a resume and a check? A number of his accomplishments might not have occurred without that Doctorate thus putting his entire history in doubt.

    This isn’t about Mr. Hampton’s race. It’s about his ethics. The fact that Honor George Hampton left it off the list of Mr. Hanpton’s acomplishments answers the question.

    It is a fair question worth investigation if for no other reason than to exonerate Hampton.

  14. -

    Fair question,

    You must not have read an earlier response to your first post. George Hampton’s accomplishments, including his Army career, his work for the Marine Corps and his university teaching all occurred before he ever received the doctorate so it was not leverage for any of his accomplishments. After that date he devoted his life to the service of his community, which has nothing to do with the source of his doctorate.

  15. -

    Comments have veered off the topic of this post into a series of assertions and defenses of the worthiness of a particular individual to be honored with a school name. That’s on us, since we approved the initial comments on that subject. It appears at this point, however, that readers have had an adequate opportunity to make their arguments, pro and con. Additional unpublished posts from both sides are careening toward the innuendo and rampant speculation used by other blogs to draw readers and impugn people’s character for their own ends. We’re going to try to avoid that here, so we won’t be entertaining more comments on the subject of the school naming.

Comments are closed.