‘Hands up, don’t shoot’: Black Lives Matter protesters gather in Richmond

Protesters symbolized a group arrest in front of the Richmond Court of Appeals during a Black Lives Matter protest on Friday. Photo by Zachary Klosko

Zachary Klosko, Contributing Writer

A Black Lives Matter protest for the death of George Floyd in downtown Richmond became violent Friday evening as protesters shattered windows and set fire to a police car and a GRTC bus.

“At this point, I don’t think there’s any other response,” said protester Aaliyah Kilpatrick as she watched the bright orange flames coming from the police car. “You’ve got to fight violence with violence.”

A police car was set on fire in front of the Richmond Police Headquarters on West Grace Street during the Black Lives Matter protest on Friday. Photo by Zachary Klosko

Police have administered tear gas canisters and sprayed mace at protesters, and several people have broken down the glass door of the 7-Eleven on West Grace and Hamilton Streets. Windows of RamTech have been broken on Monroe Park campus.

The protest began in Monroe Park at 8:30 p.m. Protesters arrived solemnly with signs saying “Justice by any means necessary” and “Disarm the police.” After a few moments of quiet, a chant broke out.

As protesters moved through the streets of downtown Richmond, they chanted “no justice, no peace, fuck the police.” Around 200 protesters stopped in front of the Richmond Court of Appeals and knelt down with their hands behind their heads to symbolize a group arrest.

“Hands up, don’t shoot,” they chanted.

Protests and riots have broken out across the country in response to Floyd’s death, which was caught on video. In the video, a white officer can be seen holding his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe.”

The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd.

Police were present throughout the protest to divert traffic and protect the protesters, some of whom raised middle fingers and shouted at the officers. Both public and private property were vandalized with “fuck all cops” and “BLM.”

A protester broke the glass front door of the Wells Fargo at West Grace and 2nd streets. Other protesters broke multiple windows at the downtown Richmond Police Station on Grace Street. Some threw rocks through the window of a police car parked out front before a group of protesters proceeded to set the car on fire.

The window of Wells Fargo on West Grace Street was shattered during Friday’s protest. Photo by Zachary Klosko

Despite the night’s intensity, protester Aliah Cherry calmly watched as the red-hot flames engulfed the police car.

“We’re sick and tired,” Cherry said.

Earlier in the night, one protester blocked the path of a police car despite being told by officers that they could be placed under arrest. The protester, who asked to not be named in fear of retaliation, said they felt they would be treated better by law enforcement than their family members because of their fair skin.

“I thought it was my duty to stand in between them and the protesters,” the protester said.

Richmond resident Kristen Brown didn’t participate in the protest but watched as the group passed her apartment complex. Brown supported the protest and said change needs to happen in law enforcement.

“There needs to be training,” Brown said. “We need to see action across the racial spectrum.”

Richmond local Christopher Evans heard about Floyd’s death and joined the protest by accident as he was walking. Evans said he agreed that a change needed to be made but still had concerns about the protest at large. He said he wasn’t approached or spoken to by fellow protesters.

“People who look just like me are protesting but they aren’t making me feel comfortable,” Evans said. “I’m still a black dude in a group full of white people.”

News Editor Eduardo Acevedo contributed to this report.

10 Comments

  1. Every time I see one of these “ Marches “ it simply infuriates me ! These are not marches , these are riots , plain and simple ! There is and always will be Injustice in this not so perfect world . Look at all the crime in this country , do the numbers . The black to white to Mexican that are arrested daily , I don’t know the numbers ,but what I read , the black population seem to commit a large number of crimes or reason for detainment and they appear not to be able to follow the polices commands . And that includes all other races as well ! It just isn’t written about !
    And this country and others have rogue cops that do feel they are above the law and can act however they please when it comes to detaining a person . That does not make all cops bad and there are those black cops out there that act the same way to a white person they may have detained , brute , badass mentality ! It’s simply wrong no matter what color you are !
    But what gives these rioters , Not Marchers , to act like a bunch of thugs , animals roaming the streets at night setting cars on fire breaking out windows , looting , that’s such a polite word for Stealing ! These peoples actions aren’t helping the cause of a man that lost his life by the injustice of one police officer . This cop has been arrested and charged with murder , what more is expected ?
    Violence , begets violence ! What’s the point ??
    It just hurts my heart to see so much meanness in this world and I especially hate seeing our own country becoming more and more divided by the race card. !
    It’s not one sided people , whites feel as if they are being persecuted just as much as the blacks , they just don’t go out and destroy the places where they live and shop and call it a march or demonstration!
    I wish I had an answer but I don’t . What I feel though , is that these rioters should be arrested on the spot !
    If they want to march , have your permit like every other organization, act like you have a little bit of sense and carry on with getting your point across ! Busting out windows and setting cars on fire isn’t the way to do it !
    Just my opinion on this issue !
    May this man Rest In Peace .

    • Dear racist, you said “look at the numbers” and immediately followed it up with “I don’t know the numbers”. You sound like an idiot.

    • Looting: stealing tea off a British ship.
      Rioting: dumping said tea into the harbor, tar and feathering the harbor master, marching through towns setting fire to British owned businesses.

      So it’s okay for our forefathers to do these things to gain their civil liberties, but not okay for modern day protestors to do it for blacks to gain the civil liberties they should have been equally granted the first go around???? And you have the audacity to say standing up and demanding respect as a human being in the “land of the free” is pulling the race card?!?!? Do you realize the reason the crimes involving people of color are higher is because our government actually puts forth an effort to keep people of color in poverty? Do you realize that this same government uses many media outlets to play upon the racial issues to distract people from the shady things the government is doing in the background? Not only are you racist ma’am, but you are a sheep allowing others to tell you how to think. Open your eyes, melt your heart, and look at what is actually going on for a change.

  2. I’m unclear what is served by the people of Jackson Ward being unable to fill prescriptions nearby at the firebombed Rite Aid, or what was the goal of trying to start a fire in an occupied apartment building, or exactly how stealing a lot of booze from the ABC store is going to help the cause. Did Balance Bicycle really need to be put out of business? Please mount your best defense.

  3. What about Police using tear gas on peaceful unarmed protesters? While several members of Police force hid behind their masks and protective gears as the protesters were being harmed. Black population APPEAR to commit more crimes but they are also at a severely disadvantageous socio-economic position and at the receiving end of Wealth inequality. Not to mention other more nuanced injustices. White community owes a lot to the whole world for raping, looting and pillaging for centuries. Judy Ellington – How would you behave if a Black Police officer would have choked your father or son or your loved one to death while other police officer remained calm? How would you react if the last words of your father/ brother/son was – I can’t breathe!
    Would you still have said – May his soul rest in peace or would you have burned with rage!

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