Virginia Lt. Gov. Fairfax compares himself to lynching victims | TheHill – The Hill
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) on Sunday compared himself to victims of lynching amid accusations that he sexually assaulted two women.
“I’ve heard much about anti-lynching on the floor of this very Senate, where people were not given any due process whatsoever, and we rue that,” Fairfax said in the state Senate, according to The Associated Press. He was referencing legislation passed expressing “profound regret” for lynchings in Virginia between 1877 and 1950.
“And we talk about hundreds, at least 100 terror lynchings that have happened in the Commonwealth of Virginia under those very same auspices. And yet we stand here in a rush to judgment with nothing but accusations and no facts and we decide that we are willing to do the same thing,” Fairfax added.
Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson have both come forward to accuse Fairfax of sexual assault in the past month.
Tyson accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex on him in 2004 while they were in Boston for the Democratic National Convention.
Fairfax maintains the encounter was consensual.
Watson issued a statement saying Fairfax raped her while the two were at Duke University.
Fairfax denied Watson’s allegation and has dismissed calls for his resignation from both the state Democratic and Republican parties as well as high-profile national Democrats.
Republicans in the Virginia House have invited Tyson and Watson to testify in front of them.
Virginia Democrats quickly slammed the move, calling it a political stunt. Fairfax has said he will not be participating, and has called for an investigation into the accusations.
House Majority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert (R) called Fairfax’s comments about lynchings highly inappropriate.
“That is the worst, most disgusting type of rhetoric he could have invoked,” Gilbert said, according to AP. “It’s entirely appropriate for him to talk about due process and we would intend to offer him every ounce of it, and he’s welcome to take advantage of that anytime he would like.”
Many black lawmakers did not object to Fairfax’s speech.
“He said what he needed to say,” said state Sen. Mamie Locke (D).
Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Del. Lamont Bagby (D) said his constituents have expressed similar concerns that Fairfax is being treated unfairly because he is black.
Fairfax is not the only Virginia lawmaker to be facing calls to step down from office.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has resisted such requests after a photo resurfaced from his medical school yearbook page of a man in blackface and another man in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. Northam initially apologized for the photo but later said he was not in the image. He admitted to wearing blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume.
Mark Herring (D), the state’s attorney general, has also admitted to and apologized for wearing blackface.