WASHINGTON — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and several officials spoke out on the commonwealth's response to current #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd protests that broken out. It's the Governor's first public appearance since the George Floyd protests have started.
Northam addressed the turmoil in Richmond, where protestors were tear-gassed during Monday afternoon demonstrations.
"To the protestors who are out in Richmond and other parts of the commonwealth: I hear you, I am with you, I pledge to stand by you," Northam said. " I can not know the depth of your pain right now, but I can stand with you and support you and together we're going to turn this pain into action. "
Northam said he chose not to send Virginia National Guard to Washington, D.C. because Mayor Muriel Bowser didn't request it, stating that "I will not send our National Guard to DC for a photo op."
What Virginia is planning on doing, Northam said, would be highlighting four measures in response to the protests: continuing to learn and listen from protestors via virtual town halls on criminal justice reform, working on a statewide day of prayer and action, and that he will be meeting with Virginia Police Chiefs to work on more diverse staffs, training. Lastly, he would continue working with officials looking for racist Virginia laws to repeal.
"Black oppression has always existed in this country," he continued, citing criminal justice reforms from the General Assembly this year and healthcare expansions.
Virginia Del. Delores McQuinn spoke about those expansions, including HB1519 which established a commission to study slavery and Jim Crow and it's effect on Virginia and to recommend on how to move forward to address inequities.
"The response of our leaders today determine where Virginia goes from here," she stated.
As of Tuesday afternoon, peaceful protests are still planned in Richmond and across the DMV. Northam encouraged people who are out protesting to do so peacefully and to remember social distancing, encouraging those to wear a mask while protesting.
He is expected to give more information on Phase 2 of the commonwealth's reopening shortly.
"Let us stand tall and live out our mantra that Virginia is for lovers," Northam concluded.