Richmond protests continue for third night, despite curfew

Police officers stand on West Broad Street in front of the VCU Police headquarters around 10 p.m. on May 31. Photo by Andrew Ringle

Eduardo Acevedo, News Editor
Zachary Klosko, Contributing Writer

Protesters returned to downtown Richmond and VCU’s Monroe Park campus Sunday night, nearly two hours after Gov. Ralph Northam’s mandatory curfew went into effect, for a third night of demonstrations sparked by the death of a black man in police custody.

Parts of Broad Street were closed Sunday at 10 p.m. near 4th Street as state and local police responded to crowds gathering after the curfew went into effect.

A group of around one hundred protesters moved through Monroe Park campus on Floyd Avenue shortly after the closures on Broad, chanting “no justice, no peace.” VCU Police issued an alert regarding the crowd at 9:53 p.m.

VCU Police issued a “disorderly crowd” alert for MCV campus at 9:11 p.m., which has since been resolved. 

Gov. Ralph Northam announced a curfew for Richmond in an executive order Sunday as a result of the second night of protests in the city. 

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney requested the curfew, which will go into effect tonight at 8 p.m. and last until 6 a.m. Northam’s executive order states the curfew will last until June 3 unless extended by an executive order.

“Pursuant to the Mayor’s requests, I have authorized a curfew in Richmond and placed the Virginia National Guard on alert,” Northam said in a statement. “They stand ready to assist in protecting our residents, businesses, especially small and black-owned businesses, and the capital city.”

According to Northam’s executive order, violating the curfew will be cited as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

“While the curfew is in place no person shall be present on any street, road, alley, avenue, park, or other public place,” Northam said in the order.

Police, medical workers, members of the press and those seeking medical assistance are excluded from the curfew.

During a press conference Sunday morning, Stoney said he asked Northam to have the National Guard “be available if needed.” Northam said the National Guard is ready to step in if Richmond needs the assistance.

“The Commonwealth has a compelling interest to maintain peace and order in the face of escalating tension,” Northam said.

In addition to the curfew, Northam’s executive order activates the Virginia Emergency Operations Center and allows Northam to waive state regulation “without regard to normal procedures or formalities.”

Northam has authorized $350,000 in state funds for response and recovery operations  coordinated through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

“This emergency declaration will provide the necessary support to localities as they work to keep our communities safe,” Northam said.

Protesters responded to the curfew by gathering in Monroe Park and 17th Street Farmers Market in Shockoe Bottom on Sunday afternoon. Windows and storefronts on West Broad Street are boarded up to prevent vandalism.

Protests and riots have broken out nationwide in response to George Floyd’s death, which was caught on video while Floyd was in police custody. 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.”

Protester Elizabeth Ratcliff said she believes business owners that saw damage or vandalism to their property during the protests should take advantage of their insurance.

“Material possessions can be replaced but lives cannot,” Ratliff said. “We hope small businesses can reap some insurance benefits. Isn’t that what insurance is for?”

Many businesses on West Broad Street suffered extensive damages during the protest on Saturday night. CVS, Whole Foods, Verizon and others had windows smashed, walls graffitied and merchandise looted.

Protesters vandalized and climbed on statues honoring Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue. The crowd held small demonstrations on the steps and around the statues.

Balance Bicycle was broken into and looted on Saturday, according to a message posted on the business’s website. Bicycles that were in the shop for repair have been stolen. The store at Goshen and West Broad streets will close indefinitely.

“I have no words, only tears as 10 years of my life evaporates in 1 night,” Greg Milefsky wrote in a post on Balance Bicycle’s website.

Managing Editor Hannah Eason and Executive Editor Andrew Ringle contributed to this report.

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