Citizens in Virginia are enraged as the latest scandal involving a corrupt politician has come to light.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam released a public apology on Friday after a “clearly racist and offensive” photograph was published online showing two individuals, one dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe and the other student in blackface. The photograph was initially published on the senior page of Northam’s 1984 yearbook from Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Initially, Northam identified himself as one of the two individuals in the offensive photograph saying, “that photo and the racist and offensive attitudes it represents does not reflect the person I am today, or the way that I have conducted myself as a soldier, a doctor, and a public servant.”
On Feb. 1, Northam tweeted, “My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me.”
In a press conference the next day, Northam reversed his original statement, saying that he was not in the photograph and that he was shocked to even see it in the first place.
“When I was confronted with the images yesterday, I was appalled that they appeared on my [yearbook] page, but I believe then, and now, that I am not either of the people in that photo,” said Northam.
Since the photograph surfaced, even members of Northam’s own cabinet have urged him to resign from his position, alongside other Virginia house Democrats. Members of the Democratic party released a statement on Friday saying, “we are so deeply saddened by the news that has been revealed today. We regret to say that we are no longer confident in the governor’s representation of Virginians. Though it brings us no joy to do so, we must call for Governor Northam’s resignation.”
Northam maintains that he would like to remain in office and be given the chance to clear his name in due time.
Dismayed Virginia lawmakers stated that they did not know whether Northam would retain his position as governor or whether democratic Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax would step into the position to replace Northam. However, Fairfax is not without his own controversies; On Sunday, he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. Fairfax disputes any claims of sexual assault against the woman.
“The insinuation is 100 percent not true, and frankly it’s offensive,” said Fairfax, according to The New York Times.