RICHMOND, Va. – During what’s typically been a coronavirus update news conference, Gov. Ralph Northam spend the first hour focuses on the protests that have erupted across the nation and around the world over the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for minutes, even after he stopped moving.
"I cannot know how it feels to be an African American person right now or what you are going through," Northam said. "I cannot know the depth of your pain. But what I can do is stand with you."
Northam outlined four specific steps he planned to take to address racism and discrimination in Virginia:
- Hold virtual town halls to discuss criminal justice reform and public safety
- Meet with chiefs of police to talk about improving officer training and interactions
- Create a statewide day of prayer, healing and action
- Examining racial inequities in Virginia laws
Del. Delores McQuinn, who represents the Richmond area in the Virginia House and was among a number of black officials and community and faith leaders who joined Northam in speaking at the news conference, said people across the country are “bruised and broken.”
“We are a nation in crisis. But I am not expecting us to stay here,” McQuinn said. “The expectation is to protest peacefully. After we protest peacefully, then sit at a table where our voices can be heard and where people can dissect and process what we have to say. Let’s get to work to make a difference.”