Politics

Virginia Lt. Gov. Fairfax Compares Himself to Lynching Victims

Embattled Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, embroiled in controversy over a pair of sexual assault allegations, addressed the state’s Senate closing session Sunday, comparing himself to victims of “terror lynchings.”

In a six-minute speech, Fairfax, 40, vehemently denied the allegations and decried a lack of due process.

“I’ve heard much about anti-lynching on the floor of this very Senate, where people were not given any due process whatsoever, and we rue that,” he said, referencing a measure the state General Assembly passed this month expressing “profound regret” for lynchings in Virginia between 1877 and 1950. “And we talk about hundreds, at least 100 terror lynchings that have happened in the Commonwealth of Virginia under those very same auspices. And yet we stand here in a rush to judgment with nothing but accusations and no facts and we decide that we are willing to do the same thing,”

Fairfax’s comments appear to echo the sentiments of others, such as disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, convicted in 2018 of sexual assault, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who was accused of sexual harassment by a former employee Anita Hill, and R. Kelly, arrested over the weekend on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. Each has attempted to counter the allegations against them by invoking the history of lynching in the U.S., particularly of Black men, who were frequently falsely accused of sexual assaults on white women.

Fairfax’s accusers, who both are Black, have accepted invitations to address their allegations at a public hearing.

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