by Kenny Boddye, candidate for Prince William County Board of Supervisor (Occocquan district)
My official statement on the allegations against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and the admitted actions of Attorney General Mark Herring, with an afterword on Governor Northam and Senate Majority Leader Norment:
Like many Virginians, I continue to be angered and heartbroken by what I’ve learned about our Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. We entrust our elected leaders to promote and uphold our values, and what we have seen over the past week has rightfully called that trust into question.
Mark Herring’s decision to color his face to emulate an admired rap artist at 19 is hurtful and perpetuates racist stereotypes, regardless of his motives. His work over the years in protecting the rights of communities of color – and the content of his admission and apology on this matter – shows growth and a commitment in his current capacity to combat racist legal practices.
At this time, I am not calling for Attorney General Herring to resign, but I am calling for him to immediately withdraw his candidacy for Virginia Governor in 2021 and to retire from his current position at the end of his term.
On the matter of Justin Fairfax, a second woman has come forward and shown herself to be credible. Both Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson have agreed to testify in an investigation into their allegations, and Lt. Governor Fairfax has also called for an investigation.
This situation is an intersectional dilemma – our commonwealth, our country, and our society has a long history with both racism and misogyny. We have convicted people of color (especially men of color) without real due process. We have also ignored, dismissed and even vilified women who have come forward with their experiences with sexual assault.
Our still-draconian criminal justice system and the resistance by many to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment prove that there are still forces in our commonwealth who support the oppression of people of color and women.
I believe women when they come forward, and I believe everyone should have the right to due process. Even in this situation, these two beliefs are not contradictory.
As such, I fully support a thorough, dignified investigation into the allegations against Justin Fairfax. This is how we seek justice for Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson while preserving Lt. Governor Fairfax’s right to due process. Should the investigation reveal weight to the allegations – or proves to be a disruption to the ability to discharge his duties – he must resign immediately.
To be clear, I stand by my stance in calling for Governor Ralph Northam to resign. His conduct since the original news broke on his yearbook picture reinforces to me that he is unfit to lead our commonwealth. I am also calling on State Senator Tommy Norment to resign for his role as editor of a VMI yearbook filled with racist photos and slurs.