A Virginia NAACP activist is accusing Virginia State Sen. Joe Morrissey of threatening violence against him during a meeting about proposed casino legislation, saying “I’ll rip your heart out of your chest.”
Lafayette Jefferson, president of the Petersburg chapter of the NAACP, said he was threatened during a meeting on Monday afternoon (January 31) inside the office of Del. Kim Taylor that began as a constituent meeting about a Morrissey bill the group opposes.
According to the Danville Register & Bee, Jefferson said in an interview that after he expressed opposition to Morrissey’s bill, which would let Petersburg voters approve a casino in their area through a referendum, Morrissey confronted Jefferson about a 2019 Facebook post in which he compared the senator’s relationship with his wife to that between president Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, who was enslaved on his estate. Morrissey’s wife, Myrna Pride, is Black.
“He put a posting that referred to my wife being concurrently and continually, and I'm going to spell it because there's a lot of little ears around, [raped],” Morrissey said during an interview, according to the newspaper after confirming he made the threat.. “And I'll repeat it again. If he ever does anything that threatens my wife or children, that's exactly what I'll do.”
Capitol Police also confirmed they responded to an incident late Monday afternoon involving the dispute between a lawmaker and a citizen, and that it was the citizen who reported being physically threatened.
"Arriving officers determined that an argument had occurred during a meeting that involved a senator, a delegate and a citizen. The citizen alleged that the senator made a statement that the citizen interpreted as a physical threat,” said Capitol Police chief Col. Anthony S. Pike. “Capitol Police are continuing to gather information, and the investigation is ongoing."
Chioma Adaku-Griffin, another NAACP official who was also in the room when the alleged threat was made, confirmed Morrissey’s threat in a signed account provided to the Richmond Times-Dispatch by Morrissey’s office.