Repeated calls for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign over controversial old yearbook photo

VIRGINIA — Protests have been happening outside the Virginia state house and the governor’s mansion since Saturday, calling for Ralph Northam to resign over this racist 1984 yearbook photo which showed one person in blackface standing beside a masked person in the white robes of the white supremacist group, the KKK robe, and another person wearing blackface.

Hours after it surfaced on a conservative media website on Friday, Governor Northam apologized and said he was one of the people in the photo.

But on saturday, he denied being in the picture.

Calls for him to step down continue to mount, including from his allies in the Democratic party — but Northam has refused to resign.

“I cannot in good conscience choose the path that would be easier for me in an effort to duck my responsibility to reconcile. I took an oath to uphold this office and serve the people of this commonwealth to the best of my ability,” Northam said. “As long as I believe I can effectively fulfill that task. I intend to continue doing the business of Virginia.”

But many Virginians, including some Filipino Americans, feel differently.

Virginia is home to more than 90,000 Filipinos, and a good number of them are politically active. According to a 2016 Asian American Pacific Islander survey, 70 percent of registered Filipino American voters in the state voted — the highest number of voter turnout for Asian Americans in all 50 states.

But that might not happen anytime soon even if the governor resigns. A report of sexual assault involving the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, who is next in line to take Northam’s spot, has also surfaced.

Meanwhile, the president of the Eastern Virginia medical school where the yearbook photo was published has formed a panel to investigate past yearbooks amid the scandal.

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