Andrew Ringle, Executive Editor
About 80 windows in several buildings on the Monroe Park campus were broken during demonstrations in Richmond on Saturday, according to a university release.
Damage to campus buildings is estimated to be at least $100,000, according to the release signed by VCU President Michael Rao. Along with the broken windows, Rao said site furnishings were dragged onto the street and several buildings were tagged with graffiti.
“VCU supports free speech and stands in solidarity with those peacefully expressing messages of social justice and equity for all people,” Rao said. “VCU does not condone – under any circumstance – acts of violence or vandalism, regardless of the purported cause.”
Several windows of local storefronts and VCU buildings on Grace and Main streets were left broken around 1 a.m. Saturday, including West Grace North and Grace and Broad residence halls.
Rao said the protest was promoted on social media to be “destructive,” and that demonstrators were different than those who have participated in peaceful demonstrations during the last month.
“We are concerned about groups that promote destruction and violence co-opting important social justice reform movements,” Rao said.
As more than 200 demonstrators marched from Monroe Park to the 2nd Street police headquarters Saturday night, they were joined by armed men in Hawaiian shirts who claimed to be members of the far-right “boogaloo” movement.
Some in the crowd opposed the group’s involvement in the march, while others defended their presence.
VCU has asked the Commonwealth’s Attorney to press charges against those involved in the damage, Rao said.
“Violence against people and deliberate destruction of property are contrary to the values of our community and will not be tolerated,” Rao said.