Richmond, Virginia – Two individuals have been charged with assaulting police officers after there was an amalgamation of acts of civil disobedience and violent agitators positioned outside of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond on July 30th.
Officials from the Richmond Police Department stated that officers were assaulted at approximately 8:00 a.m. on the 30th when the city had deployed resources to gain compliance with city ordinances related to gatherings in said public area at Monument and Allen avenues.
Richmond | Police: 2 assaulted officers near Confederate statue https://t.co/KY26yHKas6
— Cruz Inc Radio (@CruzIncRadio) July 31, 2020
Officers were reported assaulted while they were working to remove various items from the area that were deemed illegal to be present. These reportedly consisted of tents set up, unlicensed vendors engaging in commerce, people stealing electricity from the city by setting up encampments and the ilk.
The two people arrested and charged for assault on an officer were identified as Justin Killough and Kadia Taylor.
A task force was said to have been recently assembled to address the ongoing illegal activity in the area surrounding the statue. This task force consisted of police, firefighters, and several other city departments.
A press release from police noted the following about the incident that led to officers being assaulted:
“For more than 60 days, the area in an around the circle has been occupied by demonstrators, some in violation of ordinances. They have set up tents, taken electrical power, engaged in commerce without permits, displayed videos and played loud music.”
Mayor Levar Stoney was questioned about the incident, as some among the protesters felt as though police were overbearing in their enforcement in the area with regard to the ordinance violations. The mayor explained that those present were well aware of what was to come:
“A task force of health, and law enforcement agencies, alongside other government entities, gave notification to those who have gathered at the circle, of some things that were brought to our attention that were considered public safety or public health hazards.”
Considering that the people present Monument and Allen avenues were aware that they were in violation of numerous ordinances for weeks, the mayor sided with the measures taken by the task force:
“Today, they arrived, that, that task force arrived on site to rectify that, to ensure that these items would be brought into compliance. I do agree with that, I think, you know we want obviously folks to express their First Amendment rights but we also want, we also need compliance when it comes to public health and public safety matters.”
Seems as though that the luster of the protest era is wearing thin – even on elected officials that people would expect to be sympathetic.
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Over the weekend, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) suffered at least $100,000 worth of damages on campus as a result of a riot.
The protest that took place Saturday night was declared an “unlawful assembly” by Richmond State Police. Six protesters were arrested on various charges including unlawful assembly, rioting with a firearm, and assault on a law enforcement officer.
According to USA Today, the demonstration, which a protester group named “Richmond Stands with Portland,” had been planned for days. The protest was to stand in solidarity with the “protests” that have been taking place in Portland, Oregon over the last several weeks.
Police said a group of several hundred "moved through downtown, the VCU campus and the Fan –- setting fires, breaking windows, tagging buildings and sidewalks, and blocking traffic."https://t.co/kwXTpqdES4
— WTVR CBS 6 Richmond (@CBS6) July 26, 2020
The president of VCU, Michael Rao, released a statement to the university on Sunday expressing his concerns from the weekend’s events.
“It is heartbreaking to see extensive damage at our Monroe Park Campus following a violent demonstration overnight in Richmond. About 80 windows were broken in a dozen buildings along with site furnishings dragged onto the street and damaged and numerous buildings tagged with graffiti.”
According to Breitbart, Rao told a reporter over the weekend:
“We are concerned about groups that promote destruction and violence co-opting important social justice reform movements.”
“VCU supports free speech and stands in solidarity with those peacefully expressing messages of social justice and equity for all people. VUC does not condone, under any circumstances, acts of violence or vandalism, regardless of the purported cause.”
“Violence against people and deliberate destruction of property are contrary to the values of our community and will not be tolerated. VCU has asked the Commonwealth’s Attorney to press criminal charges against any individuals involved.”
— WTKR News 3 (@WTKR3) July 27, 2020
Rao claims that the violent protests that led to the destruction of VCU’s campus were unrelated to the peaceful protests efforts that also took place around Richmond over the weekend.
“Both Richmond and VCU police tell us the demonstrators were different last night compared to those participating in other peaceful demonstrations that occurred in Richmond over the last several weeks.”
“The protest was promoted in social media and flyers to be destructive, ostensibly to support protests in Portland.”
Rao concluded his statement to the university by saying:
“The safety of our university and health system campuses are of paramount importance.
Our greatest contribution to equity and inclusion of our people is to provide a conducive environment for learning, working, living and health care for our students, patients, faculty, staff, and health care team members.”
Richmond Police have released videos of parts of the protest showing the damage that was done. A video from 900 block of West Grace Street shows a large group of people that can be seen walking down the street, when one person, wearing a blue mask and blue head covering tries to smash the window at a VCU police substation with a rock.
In this other video, taken from Floyd Avenue, shows a woman wearing a red backpack smashing the doors of Grace Harris Hall with a hammer. A man tries blocking the surveillance camera with his umbrella.
And in another video, taken from the University Student Commons, cameras recorded a group pf people trying to smash windows and after several attempts they manage to shatter the windows.
Anyone with any information related to these incidents at VCU are asked to call police at 804-828-1196.
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