I do have my issues with Wise King Ralph, but I have to give credit where credit is due. He has done two things right in the past few days. He has given the OK to move to Phase 3 of the COVID-19 lockdown on July 1, and he has refused to buckle under to violent protests in Richmond. Virginia’s capital city will not turn into Portland or Seattle East.
It was not a foregone conclusion that the Governor would accede to a further relaxation of the emergency restrictions promulgated to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While Virginia metrics were all heading in the right direction, the national media were in full-blown hysteria mode over a rise in infection rates in other states that had moved to reopen their economies. Even local media, which reported on beach vacationers bringing the coronavirus with them back to the Roanoke region, were sounding the alarm. Indeed, Northam said explicitly that he was paying attention to what was happening in other states.
But in the end, Wise King Ralph did the right thing. Phase 3 represents a big step forward in getting back to normal. The measures it continues to maintain — restrictions on mass gatherings with the potential to turn into super-spreader events — are defensible.
Meanwhile, the Governor, while not exactly posing as Mr. Law and Order, defended city and state police officers who earlier yesterday used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear a sit-in outside of Richmond City Hall that was blocking traffic. As The Virginia Mercury put it, Northam expressed “befuddlement” at the ongoing protests against police brutality even though he had promised “future action on police reform and other important equity issues.”
“Mostly these demonstrations have been peaceful, but here in Richmond we continue to see nightly conflicts between demonstrators and our police,” Northam said during a press briefing yesterday. “After three weeks it is no longer clear what the goals are or a path to achieve them. Clearly Richmond needs a different path forward. These nightly conflicts cannot continue indefinitely.”
To many Virginians, that’s pretty tame stuff. But remember where the Governor is coming from. In contrition for his blackface scandal, he has made a push for social justice and equity the centerpiece of his administration. He is sympathetic to the broad aims of the protesters. Also, his Democratic Party peers in other states from Minnesota to Washington and Oregon have been extremely reluctant to deploy police force to stifle outbreaks of violence. It would have surprised no one had Northam chosen a hands-off approach to the sporadic violence and lawlessness associated with the protests. But so far, he is enforcing the law.
In this day and age, that’s saying something.There are currently no comments highlighted.