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For Immediate Release

Sharon Ponton,

We’ve Seen Northam’s Racism Before

Union Hill resident and BREDL chapter Concern for the New Generation (CNG) member, Ruby Laury spoke clearly and calmly, “Governor Northam must resign. I don’t condemn him, but he must resign.” In a statement released by Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League’s Executive Director Louis Zeller said, “We’ve seen the vulgar racism exhibited by Governor Northam in his medical school yearbook before. It is no less harmful than that of the battle-flag crowd. Both have significant, pernicious and negative consequences on people’s lives.”

Sharon Ponton, BREDL’s Stop the Pipelines Campaign Coordinator, connected the dots between the black face/KKK yearbook photo and policies/actions Governor Northam has taken and/or supported which create a pattern of racism. “During his gubernatorial campaign, Northam approved the removal of all mention of his African American running mate, Justin Fairfax, on campaign literature distributed in Northern Virginia.

“While calling for Dominion Energy to select a different site for a compressor station in Maryland because it would intrude upon the viewshed of Mount Vernon, Northam ignored calls from his constituents in Central Virginia asking for his help regarding a Dominion compressor station sited for an historic 83% African American community. Union Hill, located in Buckingham County, was settled by freedmen and descendants of those freed slaves live in the community today. Northam also dismantled the Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice after its members researched and wrote a report calling the siting of the Union Hill compressor station environmental racism.

“When it seemed the citizen advisory board (Air Pollution Control Board) tasked with the permitting decision for the compressor station might vote to deny the air permit, Northam removed the two members, Rebecca Rubin and Sam Bleicher, who had been asking pointed questions of Dominion and DEQ staff about site suitability and environmental justice. He repudiated calls from the Virginia’s NAACP to stop the compressor station. Finally, the Governor inappropriately dressed as a slave-holding Governor for Halloween just last October,” Ponton outlined.

During Northam’s press conference Saturday, “he exhibited how totally clueless he is. His white privilege manifests itself in a racist blind spot that is striking. No words can describe his callousness when we all watched him contemplate displaying his skill at the moonwalk. Sometimes his racism is overt, sometimes more subtle, but a racist pattern emerges. As Mrs. Laury said, we don’t condemn the man, but he must resign,” Ponton concluded.