Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Protesters Urge Northam to Leave and Lawmakers to Push for Change

Around two dozen black politicians and activists gathered in front of the Executive Mansion on Wednesday night to urge Governor Ralph Northam to resign.

A small group of black politicians and activists gathered in front of the Executive Mansion on Wednesday night to urge Governor Ralph Northam to resign.

The activists and politicians affiliated with the Virginia Black Politicos included Richmond City Councillor Michael Jones and Charlottesville City Councillor Wes Bellamy. The group urged lawmakers, especially African American ones, to aggressively fight for a list of demands ranging from criminal justice reform to marijuana decriminalization.

But the main focus was demanding Northam’s resignation. Bellamy and others said the governor’s promises of an apology tour and increased dialogue didn’t cut it.

“There can be no reconciliation without a reallocation of resources,” Bellamy said. “And there can be no reconciliation with Ralph Northam leading this discussion.”

Jones said Northam deserved to remain at the center of scandals that have also engulfed Attorney General Mark Herring, who admitted to wearing blackface, and Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, who has been accused by two women of sexual assault.

“This isn’t about Justin Fairfax at this point,” Jones said. “This is about the leader of this Commonwealth, and what he is choosing to do in showing what privilege is all about.”

Community organizer Rebecca Keel said African American voters wanted to see more aggressive policies from candidates in the November General Assembly elections.

“We need mass criminal justice reform,” she said. “We need parole back in Virginia.”

Northam rescheduled a black history month event that was originally set to take place last night.

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
Related Stories