Protesters hold ‘silent’ demonstration honoring George Floyd at Richmond Police headquarters

Protesters sit outside the Richmond Police Headquarters's parking garage on Monday. Photo by Eduardo Acevedo

Eduardo Acevedo, News Editor
Hannah Eason, Managing Editor
Andrew Ringle, Executive Editor

Demonstrators in Richmond protesting the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody, gathered for the 11th night on Monday in Monroe Park to march toward the city’s police headquarters.

More than 150 protesters gathered outside the Richmond Police Headquarters on Grace Street around 9 p.m., facing a group of officers equipped with shin guards and helmets. Demonstrators sat in silence on the ground outside the building’s parking garage as police reinforcements arrived.

Montae Taylor, an Old Dominion University alum who double majored in criminology and sociology, attended Monday night’s protests with his 7-year-old cousin. Taylor said his cousin, who is black, asked why protesters were saying “black lives matter.”

“I had to explain to him the fact that we have people, especially policemen, who don’t feel like black lives matter,” Taylor said. “We have judges who don’t feel like black lives matter, and we have mayors who don’t feel like black lives matter even if they have a black life themselves.”

Taylor said Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue won’t change the way “black lives are still being targeted.”

“I really don’t give a damn about this statue,” Taylor said. “It’s more so about the fact that my family will be able to live to see another day and have the same privileges that every other American is experiencing right now.”

A Richmond Circuit Court judge issued a 10-day injunction against the removal of the Lee statue on Monday. The injunction request was filed by attorney Joseph Black on behalf of William Gregory, a descendant of the statue’s donor, CBS 6 reports.

The Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor issued a statement on the arrest of a 36-year-old Hanover man who drove into a crowd of protesters Sunday, stating the driver was an “admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan and propagandist for Confederate ideology.” The office is investigating whether hate crime charges are appropriate.

Harold Rogers has been charged with malicious wounding, felony vandalism, and assault and battery after driving his truck into a crowd on Lakeside Avenue. The incident left one person injured.

“While I am grateful that the victim’s injuries do not appear to be serious, an attack on peaceful protesters is heinous and despicable and we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law,” Shannon Taylor said in the statement.

A man drove his car into a crowd of protesters during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017, where one woman, Heather Heyer, was killed.

“We lived through this in Virginia in Charlottesville in 2017,” Shannon Taylor said. “I promise Henricoans that this egregious criminal act will not go unpunished. Hate has no place here under my watch.”

VCUarts alumna and protester Kristin McKinney, who is from Hanover County, thinks the driver should be charged with attempted murder and said “the people will demand it.”

“I think his behavior is disgusting,” McKinney said. “I think him being a president of the KKK in my county, where I’m from, is unforgivable.” 

Gavielle Parks, a Virginia State alum who majored in criminal justice, protested Monday on Monument Avenue near the Lee statue. Parks said the statue should come down, and she supports demonstrators who took it upon themselves to remove another Confederate monument in Monroe Park on Sunday.

“If we could take this one down, it’d be down,” Parks said. “Because it’s not gonna stop. Like, we’re not gonna stop.”

Parks disagrees with counter-protesters who argue the Lee statue and other Confederate monuments are part of history.

“That’s their opinion but we all have our own opinion,” Parks said. “And we’re saying as one, right now we want it to be gone, and that’s what is gonna happen. It’s either we’re gonna take it down or they take it down.”

Demonstrations began at 7 p.m. in Monroe Park, where premade signs laid near the park’s fountain with handwritten slogans including “Mayor Stoney? More like poo poo pee pee bitch boy” and “Why did the cop get suspended? Beats me!”

Before leaving the park after sunset, organizers arranged the group into lines. One said it would be a “silent protest,” in which protesters would make as much noise as possible before reaching the police building and sitting in silence.

The group spread out across Franklin Street on their way to the headquarters, carrying signs and chanting “I smell bacon.”


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