Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax faced off against former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and three additional candidates on Tuesday in a Democratic gubernatorial primary debate.
Fairfax provided the most memorable moment of the evening. After two women accused him of sexual assault in 2019 just days apart, McAuliffe had been one of numerous people who called on him to resign.
The Lt. Gov. compared the treatment he had received from McAuliffe and others at that time to the treatment endured by George Floyd and Emmett Till. Till was a 14-year-old African-American boy lynched in 1955 Mississippi.
Fairfax, who is black, said, “We can’t just talk theoretically about what generally happens, but we have a real-world example where I was falsely accused in 2019. Everyone here on the stage called for my immediate resignation, including Terry McAuliffe. … He treated me like George Floyd. He treated me like Emmett Till — no due process, immediately assumed my guilt.”
“The murder of George Floyd was horrific,” Fairfax said. “It recalls a history in Virginia and in our nation where African Americans, particularly African American men, are presumed to be guilty, are treated inhumanely, are given no due process.”
“I have a son and a daughter. I never want my daughter to be assaulted. I don’t want a son to be falsely accused. And yet, this is the real world that we live in,” he added.
CNN reports that Fairfax’s remark came after “a question about policing” and the current trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
“The murders of Emmett Till and George Floyd were traumatic and triggering for generations of Black people,” noted McAuliffe in response to his opponents comments. He added that, “The Lt. Gov’s comparison was shocking, unseemly, and insensitive.”
The first woman to accuse Fairfax of sexual assault was college professor Vanessa Tyson. According to The Washington Examiner, the alleged assault occurred “at a hotel during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.”
Several days, Meredith Watson claimed Fairfax had raped her while they were students at Duke University in 2000.
Shortly after these allegations were made, Fairfax, who has vehemently denied them, issued a statement calling for “an assessment by professional law enforcement investigators who have the tools and the training to determine whether or not the allegations are true.”