Richmond mayor, state senators attend protest sparked by death of George Floyd at Robert E. Lee memorial

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney listens to protesters at the Robert E. Lee memorial on Tuesday. Photo by Jon Mirador

Hannah Eason, Managing Editor

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and two Virginia senators joined protesters Tuesday at the Robert E. Lee memorial, where they heard demands from demonstrators.

State senators Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, and Ghazala Hashmi, D-Richmond, were brought to the front of the crowd at the monument. McClellan asked protesters to “sustain this momentum.”

Left, Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, speaks to the crowd in front of the Robert E. Lee memorial on Tuesday. Right, Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Richmond. Photo by Jon Mirador

“This is a marathon, not a sprint and we need you to stay focused in holding your leaders accountable,” McClellan said through a bullhorn. “We’re inviting you to take a seat at the table.”

Richmond protesters had several demands, which were expressed to Stoney, including lifting the 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, releasing the protesters who were detained, and firing the Richmond police officers who tear-gassed protesters throughout the weekend.

The group also had long-term requests, such as the removal of the city’s Confederate memorials, which are now covered in protest signs and graffiti. Stoney has expressed support for the measure but would need City Council’s approval.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney addresses the crowd in front of the Robert E. Lee memorial. Photo by Jon Mirador

Protesters asked Stoney to establish a diverse citizen review board, which would evaluate police, release records of all African Americans who have been arrested in Richmond in the last year and establish a “Marcus Alert,” which would require police to bring in mental health professionals when a person is having a crisis.

Stoney told protesters that some of their requests were out of his hands. He said the commonwealth’s attorney for Richmond, Colette McEachin, controls all legal proceedings against protesters. Stoney gave the crowd McEachin’s phone number, 804-316-0568, but many said her mailbox was full at the time.

McEachin tweeted a statement on Tuesday, saying her office would evaluate allegations of criminal behavior — including those against law enforcement — and bring “appropriate” charges.

Protesters agreed to meet at the Robert E. Lee statue on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Stoney, along with Richmond Police Chief Will Smith, agreed to march with the protesters during a town hall meeting at noon on Tuesday. During Tuesday’s march, protesters were escorted through downtown — a stark contrast to the tear gas canisters deployed by police on Monday.

A large crowd occupied the Robert E. Lee statue on Monday afternoon around 30 minutes before the citywide curfew began at 8 p.m. At least one protester attempted to pull down the statue, and Richmond Police deployed tear gas on the large crowd.

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