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Protesters rally for Ralph Northam’s resignation outside Va. governor’s mansion over racist photo

February 2, 2019

Protesters calling for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s resignation rallied outside his Richmond residence early Saturday, hours after the Democrat admitted appearing in a “clearly racist” photograph published decades earlier in a college yearbook.

A group of demonstrators began gathering outside the Governor’s Mansion at around 9 a.m. chanting slogans and touting signs bearing messages urging him to leave office in light of the racist yearbook photo emerging Friday.

“We’re here today because we live in a state that has a history of violence and dehumanization of people of color,” community activist Arthur Burton told fellow protesters. “We’re here because the history of Jim Crow is obviously still alive and living up in the governor’s mansion.”

Published in 1984 while Mr. Northam attended Eastern Virginia Medical School, the photo showed a person in blackface posing next to a person wearing a hooded Ku Klux Klan robe. Mr. Northam acknowledged Friday evening that he was one of the people in the photo, prompting calls for his resignation into the weekend by Republican and fellow Democrats alike.

“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now,” Mr. Northam, 59, said in a statement. “I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”

“I am committed to continuing that fight for the remainder of my term,” Mr. Nothern said in a subsequent video statement later Friday.

Protesters attending the rally Saturday morning were seen carrying signs that read “Get Wrecked, Ralph” and “Resign Now,” as well as messages urging Justin Fairfax, the Virginia lieutenant governor, to take Mr. Northam’s place.

“Hey hey, ho ho, Ralph Northam has got to go,” the group chanted at one point. “You must resign, we want the facts, no racist governor, we want Fairfax.”

The protest was planned by RVA Dirt, a self-described group of “local politics nerds, community organizers and advocates.”

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