Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared victory Monday after a peaceful protest of his gun policies failed to erupt into the kind of racist violence he warned of.
“We are all thankful that today passed without incident,” Northam said in a statement. “The teams successfully de-escalated what could have been a volatile situation. I will continue to listen to the voices of Virginians, and will do everything in my power to keep our Commonwealth safe.”
A number of conservative commentators responded on Twitter by accusing Northam of manufacturing a crisis and then pretending to have saved the day.
“De-escalated what?! There were zero incidents today,” said Townhall editor Katie Pavlich.
De-escalated what?! There were zero incidents today. https://t.co/5Yi3ylLB5s
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) January 20, 2020
“You ‘de-escalated’ nothing bar that which was of your own making,” said National Review editor Charles C.W. Cooke.
The Washington Examiner’s Brad Polumbo told Northam to “stop fearmongering.” He also linked to an op-ed in which he argued that “if all you’d done was follow liberal media reports and take cues from Democratic politicians, you would have expected this political protest, launched in response to Virginia Democrats’ anti-gun legislative agenda, to end in violence and be made up of extremists.”
How Ralph Northam “de-escalated” the rally
Ahead of Monday’s rally, which was organized in opposition to sweeping gun control measures, Northam had declared a state of emergency and a temporary ban on guns on Capitol grounds. He had cited “credible” threats of violence by white nationalist groups and others.
Virginia law enforcement coordinated with the FBI to beef up security ahead of the gathering, and police ended up having a “heavy presence, with officers deploying on rooftops, others patrolling in cars and on bicycles,” Politico reported.
However, on the day of the rally, non-white gun owners were well-represented among the more than 20,000 participants, with some objecting to attempts to smear the gathering as racist.
The news media generally failed to detect anticipated racist displays, and a number of outlets were forced to cap days of foreboding reporting with admissions that the gathering was peaceful.
Authorities reported a single arrest.