Hannah Eason, Managing Editor
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney agreed to march with protesters from the State Capitol to Monument Avenue during his town hall on Tuesday.
Stoney organized the event, which started at noon, as a way to apologize for the Richmond police officers who deployed tear gas on protesters at the Robert E. Lee memorial on Monday.
Richmond Police tweeted an apology after the incident. First, RPD tweeted that violent protesters were blocking officers from reaching safety. Later, Richmond Police Chief Will Smith reviewed the footage and removed officers from the field.
Chief Smith just reviewed video of gas being deployed by RPD officers near the Lee Monument and apologizes for this unwarranted action. These officers have been pulled from the field. They will be disciplined because their actions were outside dept protocols and directions given.
— Richmond Police (@RichmondPolice) June 2, 2020
Protesters had several demands for Stoney at the town hall, including releasing badge numbers of the officers who incorrectly used tear gas, releasing detained protesters and lifting the citywide curfew that is in effect from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m until Wednesday.
As demonstrators dispersed after the town hall, protester Michaela Hatton asked the crowd to hold city officials accountable for demands.
“Don’t just stand there,” Hatton said over a bullhorn on the City Hall steps. “Ask for accountability. Demand accountability.”
Stoney and Smith are expected to march with protesters beginning at 6 p.m. at the State Capitol.
Town hall attendee Asia Trimble said that Stoney’s message served as an apology, but failed to offer a solution.
“You’re not telling us what you can do in the future to make this better, you’re not elaborating on any of that,” Trimble said. “You’re just working on our emotions, and baby that’s not going to work, because we’re already emotional.”
Mem Koroma, a protester who has been demonstrating on Friday, said Stoney’s “priorities aren’t straight” as she was walking to the town hall. She said that Richmond police officers’ use of tear gas was a “fireable” offense.
“Yesterday was probably the most peaceful protest we’ve had in the past five days,” Koroma said, “and then look how violent they reacted.”
Protests started on Friday in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. The incident, which was caught on video, sparked nationwide protests.
The Richmond Community Bail Fund has been raising donations to assist detained protesters in paying bail. The group said on Twitter that the fund has raised more than $400,000.
We are totally amazed at the amount of support these last few days—thanks to your individual donations, we’ve raised over $400k!!!
We encourage everyone who supports our work to donate to Richmond Mutual Aid as well. They deserve all the love we’ve been getting and then some! https://t.co/dz1RSPVBSY
— Richmond Community Bail Fund (@RVABailFund) June 1, 2020