Po­lice ar­rest pro­test­ers as cur­few takes ef­fect in city

After a day of cleanup and peace­ful protest, hun­dreds of peo­ple march down­town

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY JUSTIN MAT­TINGLY Rich­mond Times-Dis­patch

A large group of pro­test­ers marched in down­town Rich­mond late Sun­day night in vi­o­la­tion of a city cur­few that was an­nounced ear­lier in the day.

“Ar­rests have be­gun,” the Rich­mond Po­lice Depart­ment tweeted about 9:45 p.m. “Ap­prox­i­mately two dozen peo­ple are in cus­tody.”

At 10:15, po­lice tweeted that there were ad­di­tional ar­rests, and a fi­nal count would be avail­able later.

A group of sev­eral hun­dred pro­test­ers had left the Robert E. Lee statue and marched down­town after 8 p.m. with the city un­der cur­few, lead­ing to the ar­rests.

The cur­few was im­posed after protests that started out peace­fully ended Fri­day and

Satur­day nights with in­juries to po­lice and com­mu­nity mem­bers, the de­struc­tion and loot­ing of busi­nesses, and van­dal­ism to dozens of build­ings and mon­u­ments. One man was crit­i­cally wounded by gun­fire.

The cur­few, au­tho­rized by Gov. Ralph Northam at the re­quest of Mayor Le­var Stoney, ex­tends from 8 p.m. un­til 6 a.m., Stoney said at a Sun­day morning news con­fer­ence in which he con­demned the ri­ots and stated that the cur­few “will be en­forced.” It car­ries with it a charge of a Class 1 mis­de­meanor and will be in ef­fect nightly un­til 6 a.m. Wed­nes­day.

“The past two nights, we’ve seen what could have been peace­ful protests turn violent and de­struc­tive,” Stoney said. “We’re tak­ing these steps to pro­mote law­ful and safe demon­stra­tion and pro­tect both peo­ple and prop­erty.”

Northam de­clared a state of emer­gency for Vir­ginia on Sun­day af­ter­noon after the protests, ac­ti­vat­ing the Na­tional Guard and al­lo­cat­ing $350,000 for state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments and state re­sponse and re­cov­ery op­er­a­tions.

“This emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion will pro­vide the nec­es­sary sup­port to lo­cal­i­ties as they work to keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe,” Northam said in a state­ment. “There are many voices speak­ing out for jus­tice and heal­ing across the United States and in our com­mon­wealth, but others are ex­ploit­ing this pain and in­cit­ing vi­o­lence.”

Rich­mond po­lice spokesman Gene Le­p­ley said two in­di­vid­u­als were ar­rested in the protests from Satur­day night into Sun­day morning. He did not know the ex­act charges, but said one faces break­ing and en­ter­ing or lar­ceny and the other a firearm of­fense.

Protests against the death of Ge­orge Floyd of Min­neapo­lis while in po­lice cus­tody and against po­lice bru­tal­ity stretched across Vir­ginia and the U.S. over the week­end, with many turn­ing violent, prompt­ing a po­lice re­sponse in­volv­ing tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets in some cities, among other things.

Rich­mond was not im­mune. Stat­ues were de­faced. Build­ings were burned and looted. Cars were torched.

“I’m scared to death to live in this city,” said Ca­bell West,

74, a life­long Rich­mond na­tive who ob­served the dam­age Sun­day morning to the United Daugh­ters of the Con­fed­er­acy head­quar­ters on Arthur Ashe Boule­vard after it was set afire. She’s not alone.

Jamé Becks, a mother of two in Rich­mond, stopped her car in the mid­dle of the street Sun­day morning and ap­proached Stoney after the news con­fer­ence.

“We are an­gry,” said Becks, who protested against po­lice bru­tal­ity on Fri­day night, be­fore she and the mayor hugged. “Change needs to hap­pen.”

In an­nounc­ing that the Na­tional Guard was on alert, Northam said: “They stand ready to as­sist in pro­tect­ing our res­i­dents, busi­nesses, es­pe­cially small and black-owned busi­nesses, and the cap­i­tal city.”

Protests car­ried over to Sun­day, with peace­ful demon­stra­tors march­ing and driv­ing through the city, out­raged over the death of Floyd, an­other un­armed black man. Sun­day’s protests re­mained peace­ful, with po­lice help­ing clear the path for a down­town rally that drew nearly 1,000 peo­ple.

The ral­lies were far dif­fer­ent than what the city saw Fri­day night, when a GRTC bus was set ablaze, and Satur­day night, when chaos en­camped in down­town Rich­mond.

“It’s hor­ri­ble what the po­lice had done, but this is not the an­swer,” said Karen Mead­ows of Rich­mond.

Stoney, Smith: Out­siders responsibl­e for ri­ot­ing

At a news con­fer­ence out­side Rich­mond City Hall, Stoney and Po­lice Chief Wil­liam Smith said peo­ple from out­side the city — and Vir­ginia — sparked the ri­ots.

“We have peo­ple from across the coun­try who have trav­eled many states to be here. We know that this is an or­ga­nized ef­fort,” Smith said. “We’re com­mit­ted to try and iden­tify those that are be­hind it. And we’re do­ing our very level best to ar­rest those that are per­pe­trat­ing the vi­o­lence on our com­mu­nity, our city and against our cit­i­zens.”

Nei­ther Stoney nor Smith listed spe­cific groups for who might be be­hind the ri­ots.

Smith said peo­ple who went to the protests peace­fully had left once things turned violent.

“Peo­ple com­ing to our city and van­dal­iz­ing some legacy black busi­nesses, busi­nesses in gen­eral, public trans­porta­tion that peo­ple in this city rely on, un­der the guise of po­lice ac­count­abil­ity, that’s not progress for black Amer­ica,” said Stoney, adding that the ri­ot­ers were “tak­ing ad­van­tage of our pain, mak­ing a mock­ery of Ge­orge Floyd’s death, us­ing our frus­tra­tion, our anger and our heart­break to cre­ate chaos.”

Smith said that dur­ing Satur­day night’s protests, sev­eral build­ings were set afire, in­clud­ing a mul­ti­fam­ily res­i­dence at 309 W. Broad St. that had a child in­side. Pro­test­ers ini­tially blocked the Rich­mond Fire Depart­ment from reach­ing the res­i­dence, Smith said, but po­lice were even­tu­ally able to clear enough space so the fire crew could make it in­side the build­ing and res­cue the fam­ily.

“When you take a le­git­i­mate is­sue and hi­jack it for un­known rea­sons, that is un­ac­cept­able to me, it’s un­ac­cept­able to the Rich­mond Po­lice Depart­ment and un­ac­cept­able to the city of Rich­mond,” an emo­tional Smith said.

While the fire depart­ment worked to put out the fire, pro­test­ers rolled a burn­ing trash can onto Broad Street.

Four po­lice of­fi­cers were injured dur­ing Satur­day night’s protests, Smith said.

Un­der the cur­few, res­i­dents aren’t al­lowed on streets, roads, al­leys, av­enues, parks or other public spa­ces in the city, ac­cord­ing to the or­der. The ex­cep­tions are:

♦ peo­ple trav­el­ing to and from home, work or places of wor­ship;

♦ hospi­tal per­son­nel;

♦ mem­bers of the press;

♦ state and city of Rich­mond em­ploy­ees and vol­un­teers;

♦ mil­i­tary per­son­nel in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to Na­tional Guard troops;

♦ pri­vate emer­gency med­i­cal trans­port work­ers;

♦ peo­ple seek­ing emer­gency ser­vices; and

♦ other emer­gency work­ers. The or­der says vi­o­la­tion of Northam’s or­der will be a Class 1 mis­de­meanor, which is pun­ish­able by less than a year in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500.

While the cur­few runs un­til 6 a.m. on Wed­nes­day, Northam can ex­tend it. The state of emer­gency is un­til June 29.

Overnight protests leave Rich­mond stag­ger­ing

Satur­day night’s protests ran into the early hours of Sun­day as build­ings burned, busi­nesses were dam­aged and stat­ues along Mon­u­ment Av­enue tagged with graf­fiti.

The head­quar­ters of the United Daugh­ters of the Con­fed­er­acy was among the build­ings set ablaze, with nine firetrucks and a po­lice line three blocks long work­ing to as­suage the fire and pro­tect the build­ing.

Graf­fiti cov­ered much of its fa­cade: “f------ racists,” “po­lice are creepy,” “stole from us” and more.

On the front steps was the word “abo­li­tion.”

Nearby, graf­fiti cov­ered the Stonewall Jack­son statue at Arthur Ashe Boule­vard and Mon­u­ment Av­enue, where pro­test­ers had gath­ered ear­lier in the night. The nearby Robert E. Lee me­mo­rial was also cov­ered in graf­fiti, as were the stat­ues of Jef­fer­son Davis and J.E.B. Stu­art.

The Rich­mond Fire Depart­ment also re­sponded to a fire at Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Univer­sity’s Rhoads Hall in the 700 block of West Franklin Street, with both fires un­der con­trol by 1:30 a.m.

“The protests over the past few days on and near VCU’s Mon­roe Park Cam­pus have re­sulted in dam­age to our shared com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing bro­ken win­dows and doors, graf­fiti, dam­aged ve­hi­cles and de­bris fires,” univer­sity Pres­i­dent Michael Rao said Sun­day. “I am grate­ful to our many em­ploy­ees who have re­sponded quickly to make re­pairs and keep every­one on our cam­pus safe to live, learn and heal.”

“We will work to­gether to fix what’s bro­ken here. We must fix what has been bro­ken in our com­mu­ni­ties across this na­tion for decades.”

Pro­test­ers sprayed graf­fiti over build­ings all across down­town, leav­ing crews of pro­fes­sion­als and vol­un­teers to clean up.

“There’s a right way to protest, and this isn’t it,” said

Eric Wingo of Amelia County, who cleaned graf­fiti on Grace Street out­side the U.S. Dis­trict Court­house.

A Rich­mond po­lice spokesman said he did not know how many build­ings were dam­aged and how much over­all prop­erty dam­age pro­test­ers caused.

City po­lice re­ported Sun­day morning that one per­son suf­fered life-threat­en­ing in­juries when he was shot while rid­ing in a car that came into con­tact with pro­test­ers in down­town Rich­mond early Sun­day. Po­lice were called to a hospi­tal shortly after 1 a.m. after re­ceiv­ing a re­port that the vic­tim, an adult male, had ar­rived with a gun­shot wound.

Re­ports in­di­cate that the ve­hi­cle he was rid­ing in passed by a group of pro­test­ers around 12:30 a.m. in the 2000 block of West Grace Street, po­lice said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say the gun­shots came from be­hind the ve­hi­cle. Po­lice do not yet have a de­scrip­tion of the sus­pect in the shoot­ing.

GRTC spokes­woman Car­rie Rose Pace said the bus that was set ablaze overnight Fri­day cost

ALEXA WELCH EDLUND/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

Pro­test­ers marched through down­town Rich­mond on Sun­day. Demon­stra­tions against the death of Ge­orge Floyd of Min­neapo­lis while in po­lice cus­tody and against po­lice bru­tal­ity stretched across Vir­ginia and the rest of the coun­try over the week­end.

JOE MA­HONEY/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

A burned-out car sat across from the for­mer Com­fort restau­rant along West Broad Street on Sun­day after an overnight dis­tur­bance.

JOE MA­HONEY/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

In an­nounc­ing that the Na­tional Guard was on alert, Gov. Ralph Northam said: “They stand ready to as­sist in pro­tect­ing our res­i­dents, busi­nesses, es­pe­cially small and black-owned busi­nesses, and the cap­i­tal city.”

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