A prominent Republican candidate for Virginia governor said that the guilty verdict against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin this week made her “sick” and that jurors didn’t acquit him because they feared a violent backlash.
“Friends, today’s verdict makes me sick,” state Senator Amanda Chase of Chesterfield told a gathering in King William County on Tuesday shortly after a jury found Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. “I am so concerned about our law enforcement right now quitting. And you should be, too.”
Her comments, captured in a video Ms Chase posted to Facebook, drew rebukes from state and national Democratic groups. American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal super PAC, circulated video of Ms Chase’s remarks on Twitter, drawing about 150,000 views.
Before noon Wednesday, a least one of the five Democrats running for governor was trying to raise money off Ms Chase’s remarks.
“Virginia left Amanda Chase’s bigoted ideas in the 20th century,” state Senator Jennifer McClellan said in a fundraising appeal that accused Chase of espousing “blatantly racist ideas.”
But Ms Chase, a self-described “Trump in heels” who prides herself on provocative statements, stood by her remarks.
“I’m concerned that the decision was politically motivated more to prevent civil unrest than to serve justice,” she later said in a written statement. “The decision made today sends a clear message to law enforcement; the justice system doesn’t have your back.”
With those remarks, Ms Chase has lined up well to the right of some of her party’s most conservative leaders, including Representative Jim Jordan. A Trump loyalist, Mr Jordan would not say explicitly if he agreed with the verdict but told CNN: “The justice system works. I said last summer that what happened to George Floyd was as wrong as wrong can be, and the justice system will work and that’s what we saw happened.”
Chauvin, a white police officer, took Mr Floyd, who was Black, into custody last May. Handcuffed and face down on the pavement, Mr Floyd died after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. The killing sparked protests over racial injustice nationwide.
Ms Chase’s stance puts her in the company of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who have likewise suggested that jurors convicted Chauvin because they feared an acquittal would lead to unrest.
“Amanda Chase’s comments are racist and dangerous, but they are also clearly representative of the beliefs of many Republicans,” said Manuel Bonder, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia. “It’s incumbent upon the other candidates to condemn these comments in no uncertain terms. Anything less is a de facto agreement, and proves there is no daylight between them.”
Ms Chase is one of seven Republicans seeking that party’s gubernatorial nomination in an 8 May convention. Five Democrats are competing in their party’s 8 June primary.
All five Democratic candidates were quick to applaud the Chauvin verdict, as was third-party candidate Princess Blanding, whose brother, Marcus-David Peters, was killed by Richmond police while he was experiencing a mental health crisis in 2018.
Ms Chase was the only Republican gubernatorial candidate to volunteer a statement on the verdict. When asked to comment on the verdict, only two of the other six Republicans responded to inquiries from The Washington Post and other news outlets.
“Officer Chauvin was afforded due process and convicted today by an impartial jury,” Kirk Cox of Chesterfield, a former state House speaker and retired teacher, said in a written statement Tuesday. “For me, that is a clear result of our judicial process, and it’s important to not only respect that outcome, but to defend it as the rightful result in a society that should value the rule of law.”
Glenn Youngkin, a former Carlyle Group executive, also issued a written statement: “Our prayers are with the Floyd family, the Chauvin family, and our entire American family at this time. It is our hope that Mr Floyd’s family finds peace in this verdict right now, at what is no doubt another agonising moment in their lives. As governor I will uphold the foundations of our civil society, preserve the right to a fair trial, and ensure equal treatment under the law.”
The Democratic Party of Virginia highlighted Chase’s remarks on Twitter in a bid to pressure the six other Republicans to weigh in on her take, writing: “Will any Virginia Republican condemn this despicable racism?”
None of the six GOP gubernatorial candidates responded to requests for comment from The Post about Ms Chase’s remarks. In addition to Mr Cox and Mr Youngkin, the other Republicans are retired Army Colonal Sergio de la Peña, former think tank executive Peter Doran, businessman Pete Snyder and former Roanoke sheriff Octavia Johnson.
Along with Ms McClellan, the Democratic contenders are former delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy of Prince William, Lee Carter of Manassas, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and former governor Terry McAuliffe.
All are running to succeed Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat who is barred by the state constitution from seeking back-to-back terms.
The Washington Post