‘You Cannot Let The Media Lynch VMI,’ Virginia State Senator Warns

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tags: racism, Confederacy, Virginia Military Institute

RICHMOND — Virginia Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. used inflammatory language Monday as he denounced the resignation of Virginia Military Institute's superintendent, warning lawmakers: "You cannot let the media lynch VMI."

Norment, who graduated from VMI in 1968, made the remark in a special session at the Science Museum of Virginia before a vote to appropriate $1 million for an investigation into racism at the state-supported military college.

While Norment (R-James City) supported the investigation, he said Gov. Ralph Northam (D) should not have pressured VMI’s superintendent, retired Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, to resign. Peay stepped down after Black cadets described relentless racism at the 181-year-old school in a Washington Post story.

Norment’s remark comparing scrutiny of VMI to a “lynching” was jarring to some lawmakers because a White student in 2018 threatened to “lynch” a Black freshman during Hell Week and “use his dead corpse as a punching bag.”

Norment, who is White, said he was recalling the “feeding frenzy” in 2019 into allegations of sexual assault against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), an African American who compared the storm surrounding him to a lynching. Norment said the rush to judge Fairfax “was done without any investigation, any corroboration or any hearing whatsoever. And it just didn’t seem right to me.”

Then Norment said: “Taking comments you made in 2019, you cannot let the media lynch VMI.”

Fairfax, who has strongly denied the allegations against him, said in an interview Monday that he appreciated Norment’s suggestion that he had been denied due process. But Fairfax supports the investigation into VMI and said he was not involved in any decision to ask VMI officials to step down before its conclusion.

Read entire article at Washington Post

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