Prince George's Notebook

By Ovetta Wiggins and Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 16, 2009

A proposal to build a professional soccer stadium in Prince George's County is dead for now, but some residents are still swarming over local elected officials' support of the plan.

A group of protesters, led by a group called People for Change, gathered outside the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro last week, waving signs calling for the resignation of county leaders who embraced the plan.

"Referendum for Recall," one sign said.

"Hit the Road Jack," said another.

The protest came a day after the County Council voted to oppose state legislation to study the merits of the stadium, but protesters said some of the county's leaders disrespected taxpayers by jumping out front on the issue without the community's support.

Council Chairman Marilynn M. Bland (D-Clinton), County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) and County House Delegation Chairman Melony G. Griffith (D) attended a news conference with D.C. United owners when they announced their intention to consider relocating to Prince George's. The elected officials said they were in favor of the stadium.

Del. Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George's) supported the issue in Annapolis. Council member Samuel H. Dean (D-Mitchellville) never voiced his opinion publicly, but he joined Bland last month when she walked out of a council meeting without letting residents who opposed the plan speak.

The group called for the resignations of Bland, Dean, Johnson, Griffith and Vaughn.

"No more profits before the people," the crowd yelled in a chant led by Sandy Pruitt, a member of People for Change.

Jerry Mathis, also a member, said the protest was not a one-time event but "a movement."

"This is not a rally," he said. "We will continue."

County Democratic leaders said they supported the opportunity for residents to voice their opinions but disagreed with the group's platform.

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