PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A member of Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus is calling on the state to launch an investigation after a Hampton election official was forced to step down when racist material, attributed to him, surfaced on social media.
Since 10 On Your Side first broke the story, news organizations across the country have covered the story.
In February of last year, a post on David Dietrich’s Facebook page called the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and retired Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré, both of whom are Black, “stinking” n-words and it called for public lynchings.
Veteran Virginia Sen. Dr. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), a Hampton University political scientist, questions how members of the Hampton GOP failed to uncover the racist comments before the nomination.
“It’s unclear to me why members of the Republican Party could not see those same messages,” said Locke.
But years before the Facebook post, Hampton police removed Dietrich from City Council chambers after he disrupted a public meeting.
And about the insurrection on January 6, 2021, a post on his page said: “Yesterday gave me some little hope that the People are finally awakening from their stupor and reasserting their rightful place in the governance of this Republic.”
Lock says over the past few years, those with racist views have been emboldened by the political climate.
“There’s a culturally toxic environment since 2015-2016, where individuals have felt safe to say and do these toxic and negative things and felt that it was ok,” said Locke.
Regina Mobley: “Do you think there needs to be a call for a broader investigation into Mr. Dietrich and any of his allies?”
Dr. Mamie Locke: “Absolutely, given the comments made in that particular social media statement and what he said, absolutely. I think that there may be a need for some examination of his time as a member of the board… make some determination of anything he has seen, touched, or been involved in as a member of the board.”
The governor’s office responded to a question from 10 On Your Side on whether Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin will call for an investigation into Dietrich’s tenure as chairman of the Hampton Electoral Board and the nomination process.
A spokesperson would only point to Youngkin’s April 9th tweet that called for Dietrich’s resignation.