This year has been a challenging one, to say the least. The killing of George Floyd in Minnesota last week is just the latest in what seems to be a series of terrible events happening in the US and around the world. The George Floyd killing set off a frenzy of protests around the nation, including in Virginia that transformed into riots. This comes on top of the first days of Governor Northam’s mask order and the chaotic – at best – rollout and enforcement of the mandate.
There is no doubt that what happened to George Floyd was horrific and wrong – there is no excuse for it. The vast, overwhelming majority of law enforcement truly stand to protect and serve. The few who abuse the power of their badge should be punished to the full extent of the law. In the midst of this we can not forget the valuable service our police officers provide every day by putting themselves in harm’s way.
Peaceful protest is not only allowed but is welcomed in the Commonwealth of Virginia and across our nation. Americans have every right and justification for being on the streets peacefully protesting the death of George Floyd. Arson is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Vandalism is not protesting. It is tragic to see these protests hijacked by outside groups and Antifa troublemakers who want to play at anarchy.
As Republicans have pointed out many times since January, the right of the people to peacefully assemble and petition their government for the remedy of grievances is a fundamental Constitutional right.
It is telling that Governor Northam waited for two days of arson and rioting before declaring a state of emergency. When faced with a peaceful Second Amendment protest in January, he declared a state of emergency that started two days before the rally even began and before the first person ever arrived on Capitol Square.
Governor Northam’s reactions to both the riots and the Coronavirus have been a lesson in how not to lead during a crisis.
I hope you will continue to contact us if there is any way we can be of assistance. You can reach my office at 434.696.3061 or DelTWright@house.virginia.gov