Tensions rise for Governor Northam

Courtesy Getty Images/Matt McClain

James Finney | Copy Editor

Tensions continue to rise over the photos that appeared three weeks ago of Virginia Gov. Northam dressed in either black face or a KKK uniform during his time at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Protestors appeared at the Executive Mansion on Saturday, Feb. 23, demanding Northam’s resignation.

Reporters from Richmond’s ABC 7 identified the group of protesters as African American faith leaders and members of anti-abortion groups. The protesters were also calling for the resignation of Lieutenant Gov. Fairfax, who has been accused by two woman of committing sexual assault.

This comes after a myriad of other hurdles and hiccups in Northam’s efforts to reconcile with Virginians, including the doubling back of his original statement about the photos, and claiming that he was not one of the two men featured in the photos.

Since then, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) has also called for Northam to resign. This statement was affirmed during a press conference held on the same day of the protests. Leader of the association, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said that they,"stand by that call," despite Virginia Assembly Speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican, being the next in line for the governorship if both Northam and Fairfax are removed from office.

Northam also encountered resistance at the first stop of his “racial reconciliation tour.” On Feb. 19, students at Virginia Union University, a historically black college, asked him to reschedule his visit to the university, where he was intending to deliver a speech to honor the “Richmond 34,” a group of students from VUU who held a sit-in protest at a segregated department store in 1960.

In a letter from Jamon Phenix, President of the student government at VUU, Phenix said to Northam that his visit would take away from the historical significance of the commemoration.

Honoring the students’ wishes, Northam stated that he would instead host the Richmond 34 at the Executive Mansion that Friday.

Elizabeth Johnson Rice, a member of the Richmond 34 commented to the Washington Post, saying that she was “appalled” at the decision the students had made, and that the Richmond 34 were not consulted before the decision was made.

Current opinion on whether or not Northam should resign is split. A survey from Quinnipiac University was sited in an article by HuffPost, stating that 48 Percent of Virginia voters want Northam to stay in office, the other 42 Percent want Northam to resign.