Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) is reportedly considering using facial recognition software to prove he does not appear in a decades-old racist photo amid reports the embattled Virginia Democrat is backtracking on his apology and has no immediate plans to resign.
Democrats and Republicans are demanding Northam resign after a photo surfaced Friday of two people in blackface and a Ku Klux Klan robe and hat in his yearbook. The shock photo was first reported by Big League Politics and later obtained by the Virginia-Pilot. Northam, initially, apologized for appearing in the photo, calling it “clearly racist and offensive,” yet has since told state Democrats that he is no longer certain it is him in the photo and indicated he won’t leave his post. Northan has even reportedly floated using facial recognition tools to prove his innocence.
The New York Times reports:
With the governor and his top advisers gathered in the executive residence next to the State Capitol in Richmond, the Democrat familiar with Mr. Northam’s calls said the governor was determined to prove it was not him in the photograph and was even considering using facial recognition software. The governor, this Democrat said, wanted to take responsibility on Friday night, which was why he apologized for appearing in the picture without acknowledging which person he was in the image.
However, as Breitbart News’ Charlie Nash reported, facial recognition has a shoddy record of correctly identifying subjects. Amazon’s facial recognition tool, which the technology giant sells to federal government agencies and other customers, reportedly misidentified nearly 30 members of Congress as police suspects in 2018.
Despite the tool’s less than stellar record, states like New York and top police forces, including the London metropolitan police, also use it.
In the meantime, the Virginia House and Senate Democrat Caucuses and the state’s Legislative Black Caucus are demanding Northam jettison his post, along with several prominent progressive groups, including Moveon.org.
A slew of Democrat presidential candidates, including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have also called on Northam to resign. Possible 2020 contenders such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined the chorus of resignation calls as well. “There is no place for racism in America. Governor Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately, Justin Fairfax is the leader Virginia needs now,” Biden said in a statement.
Northam is scheduled to deliver a press conference Saturday at 2:30 p.m. local time.