Opinion by Erich Pratt
Senior Vice President
Gun Owners of America, Inc.
Virginia – -(AmmoLand.com)- Virginia Royal Governor Northam’s reaction to the rioting in Richmond, Manassas, and other areas in Virginia, in the wake of George Floyd’s disturbing killing by Minneapolis police, is worthy of discussion.
Governor Northam recently commented that “there are many voices speaking out for justice and healing across the United States and in our Commonwealth, but others are exploiting this pain and inciting violence.”
The Governor apparently believes that violence is being perpetrated only by a small minority that do not represent the values of the majority of protesters.
But isn’t it reasonable to say that a person who throws objects at the police ceases to be a protester and becomes a rioter? The photos from Richmond and Manassas sure make it seem that there were a significant number of rioters among the protesters. Governor Northam’s expression of solidarity is concerning, especially when placed into context.
Back in January, during the Virginia Citizens Defense League Lobby Day rally, Governor Northam took quite a different tack. He announced that he had heard vague and entirely unsupported rumors of “violence surrounding the event, along with white nationalist rhetoric” which he used as justification for ignoring state law, and ordering a firearms ban on Capitol Square during Lobby Day.
In other words, when law-abiding gun owners from across political, racial, sexual, and economic divides sought to hold a peaceful rally, Northam tried to demonize and marginalize them as fringe “white supremacists.”
He gave gun owners the classic Saul Alinsky Rules for Radicals treatment — “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” But when many of “his people” (radicals on the extreme left, including felons who likely voted for Northam) riot violently in the streets, the Governor attempts to minimize the problem.
That is not to say that many of those protesting the police killing of George Floyd do not have a righteous cause. Indeed, GOA has long opposed the militarization of police, heavy-handed tactics such as no-knock warrants, and the adoption of an us-versus-them mentality. Far too many gun owners — especially minorities — have been on the receiving end of police misconduct — including examples in Texas, Arizona, Alabama, and Minnesota.
That does not excuse smashing windows of small businesses, looting Target, or burning down AutoZone.
Back in January, tens of thousands of Americans converged on Richmond, with most of them armed to the teeth. Yet, in stark contrast to the Governor’s dire predictions, there was no violence of any kind — none. Nor was there nor any sight of Northam’s promised white supremacists. To the contrary, Gun Owners of America’s Director of Outreach Antonia Okafur — a black woman — later quipped that “[t]his was, by far, hands down the worst white supremacist rally I’ve ever seen. There were people shaking my hand. I mean, they even let me speak….”
In January, Governor Northam issued the following challenge to gun owners: “I call on them to disavow anyone who wishes to use Monday’s rally to advance a violent agenda.” Yet in response to the recent riots, Governor Northam has done little disavowing — making pale pastel statements like “[t]here are many voices speaking out for justice and healing across the United States and in our Commonwealth….”
As an editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch notes, “[w]e find it curious that it was only after two nights of escalating violence that Virginians finally heard from Gov. Ralph Northam.” The author continued “why has [Governor Northam] yet to come out in condemnation of the wanton destruction and vandalism that occurred in Richmond and other areas in the commonwealth?”
It’s time for Governor Northam to take a firm stand against those who commit actual violence — not a stand against perceived threats based on his irrational fear of law-abiding gun owners. The Governor should have welcomed the tens of thousands of gun owners who came to Richmond back in January, just like he should now be telling the rioters that they will not be tolerated.
But, as with Northam’s gun control agenda, he has everything upside down.
About Gun Owners of America (GOA) :
Gun Owners of America (GOA) is a non-profit lobbying organization formed in 1975 to preserve and defend the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. GOA sees firearms ownership as a freedom issue. `The only no comprise gun lobby in Washington’ – Ron Paul Visit: www.gunowners.org to Join.