Eduardo Acevedo, News Editor
Hannah Eason, Managing Editor
Hundreds gathered in downtown Richmond on Saturday for a second night of protests, which sparked nationwide after the death of a black man in police custody. The demonstration brought vandalism to Confederate statues and local businesses.
Multiple businesses near VCU, including Whole Foods, CVS and Verizon on West Broad Street, were vandalized and graffitied during the protest.
Protestors broke down the glass door and windows of the 24 Hour CVS on West Broad street. They have begun storming the CVS. pic.twitter.com/VttOxSMPPv
— Eduardo Acevedo (@edace2936) May 31, 2020
On Monument Avenue, statues commemorating Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis were tagged with “Fuck Cops,” “RIP George Floyd” and “ACAB,” an acronym for “all cops are bastards.” At one point a protester climbed the Jefferson Davis statue, hung a noose around its neck and rallied other protesters to pull the statue down, which was unsuccessful.
Robert E. Lee statue got tagged #Richmond #NoJusticeNoPeace pic.twitter.com/GdAL6UbJJt
— Natalie (@a1iendays) May 31, 2020
Police used rubber bullets, tear gas canisters and mace on protesters. Richmond SWAT teams appeared frequently and attempted to break up crowds. WRIC ABC8 News reported that two Capitol police officers are in the hospital with leg injuries after being struck with a baseball bat and beer bottle near Capitol Square.
As the crowd moved westward on Franklin Street around 11:30 p.m., one protester threw a brick into the glass door of Beth Ahabah, a Jewish synagogue. The protester who threw the brick was chastised by other members of the crowd for not keeping the protest peaceful.
Someone just threw a brick, shattering one of the windows of the Congregation of Beth Ahabah, a synagogue. pic.twitter.com/rnpvKpkZRJ
— Eduardo Acevedo (@edace2936) May 31, 2020
Protesters emerged from Hanover Avenue onto Arthur Ashe Boulevard when the energy in the crowd shifted. People in the crowd looked at each other before one said “not the VMFA.”
That was when the protesters’ attention was aimed at the Daughters of the Confederacy building, which neighbors the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The protesters quickly swarmed the steps of the building and began tagging the walls and breaking windows with rocks and skateboards. People in the crowd lit the curtains inside the building’s windows on fire before continuing down Arthur Ashe Boulevard.
Black Lives Matter protests have erupted across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, whose death 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.”
On Friday in Richmond, police used tear gas as hundreds of protesters moved from downtown to VCU’s campus. A GRTC Pulse bus was damaged, graffitied and set on fire during the protest.
The protest on Friday brought damage to VCU’s campus, including broken windows and doors, graffiti, damaged vehicles and debris fires, university spokesperson Mike Porter said in an email.
VCU President Michael Rao released a statement on Friday in response to Floyd’s death, saying he was “appalled, horrified, distressed and sickened all at once.”
“So to be reminded time and time again that skin color still influences mobility and even vitality more than a college degree, more than class status and zip code, disturbs me deeply,” Rao said in the release. “We are reminded again what can be so easily undone by the exercise of someone’s privilege and prejudice.”
On Twitter, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said the protests were a result of “built up pain,” but “two wrongs don’t make a right.”
What you’re seeing around this country and saw in Richmond last night is built up pain. I feel that, and it hurts. I know it could have been me or my brother. But two wrongs don’t make a right. If you love this city, you’ll express your pain without hurting others. #RVAStrong https://t.co/5NZTLlaGaw
— Levar M. Stoney (@LevarStoney) May 30, 2020
Protests dont cause vandalism, property distruction and fires…..just sayin. Call it what it is, a RIOT. The more yall call it a protest and down play the CRIMES that are being committed, the MORE these fools will commit said crimes! I love to see the peaceful protests and will actively be a part of them, but as soon as people start acting stupid, I am out and the cause loses legitimacy in their message with me and MANY others. YOU ARE DESTROYING YOUR OWN CAUSE! This is why the other side doesnt take the BLM cause seriously and fights against the cause vs fighting for it.
There’s a lot of white instigators sadly.
To be honest even if protest were peace, “ the other side” would never take the cause” seriously”. I think people have been peaceful for wayyyyyy to long!! When you have a bigot in office who only breeds hate and confusion, this is what you get. Most presidents would have addressed the country last night asking for calm and peace but did Trump? No! Because black lives are not valued and some people do not care. This younger generation showed that they will not tolerate it and it was beautiful to see people of all races on one accord! They are more educated than previous generations. The bottom line is if they want protest to stop: charge the other three officers involved with murder and bring this case to trial for #justiceforgeorge.
If they wanted the riots to stop, the cops would do their job and stop them.
Good police officers are tired of bad cops making all look bad. I believe some officer could care less about the vandalism etc because they too are sick of the over policing of black men.
Bring down the Confederate monuments and get rid of the Daughters of the Confederacy! Stop glorifying the antebellum south, it’s a lie. Regardless of what Lee said or whether he was a gentleman, at the end of the day he chose to defend the side of the war that fought for slaves. End of story. So ashamed to tell people I’m from Richmond because no one in this town gets it.