RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Despite the city’s 8 p.m. curfew taking effect, police seem to have remained largely on the outskirts of Tuesday’s protest march through Richmond.
8News joined protesters during the march as they move through Richmond. The crowd turned onto Arthur Ashe Blvd. before going east onto Monument Ave. near the Jefferson Davis Monument and then along Franklin St.
At this time, there has been no sign of police around the march or any arrests reported.
9 p.m. — Richmond Police Department denies claim that officer spit on apprehended protester
Richmond Police Department has denied that an officer spit on a detained protester after video of the alleged incident was widely spread on social media.
In a tweet sent by Richmond Police, officers say “an frame-by-frame analysis of a viral video that appears to show RPD officers spitting on a detained prisoner shows it did not happen as activists have claimed.”
Richmond Police later identified the prisoner as a “protester.”
According to police, the video captured Monday shows officers coughing and spitting onto the grass as a result “to exposure to tear gas.”
8 p.m. — Lt. Gov. Fairfax tells protesters he’s staying with them after 8 p.m. curfew
Hundreds of demonstrators remain around the Robert E. Lee monument — where several canisters of tear gas were deployed on protestors the day before — past the city’s curfew on Tuesday. The crowd has been heard chanting “We’re not leaving! We’re not leaving!”
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) marched with demonstrators in Richmond, where protests have taken place over the last four days following the death of George Floyd. Fairfax tweeted out his intentions earlier in the day with a message for Richmond police to “put your tear-gas away and listen.”
8News was told that Fairfax plans to be out in the city past the curfew.
6:30 p.m. — Richmond mayor speaks with 8News while joining protest
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney addressed growing calls for him to resign while walking alongside demonstrators during Tuesday’s protest in the city.
Earlier in the day, the mayor spoke with hundreds of people outside City Hall who were upset with Richmond police who threw tear gas at protestors before Monday’s 8 p.m. curfew. The crowd demanded for Stoney, RPD Chief William Smith and others to step aside as a result and some challenged the mayor to march with them later in the day.
8News’ Ben Dennis caught up with Stoney during the Tuesday’s march and spoke with him about his decision to join protestors and pressure put on him to resign.
“Because number one, I’m a man of my commitment,” Stoney said when asked why he was walking with protestors. “I apologized today for what happened with the tear-gassing and so, they asked me to walk with them and here I am. I feel and support the pain that they’re feeling. As a black man, I’ve experienced some of what we’ve been seeing in the images and I’m here to express my opinion as well.”
5 p.m. — Virginia National Guard troops deployed in Richmond ahead of protests
The Virginia National Guard has been deployed in Richmond ahead of planned protests Tuesday outside the state Capitol.
Alfred Puryear, a spokesperson for the Virginia National Guard, told 8News that the soldiers and airmen “are providing direct support to the Richmond Police Department, Capitol Police and Virginia State Police to help keep their fellow Virginians safe.”
A National Guard sergeant told 8News’ Ben Dennis that troops have been in the area since Sunday, but have only been out at night. Even before Tuesday’s protest outside the Capitol — which is expected to begin at 6 p.m. — Richmond police urged residents to avoid downtown in a tweet.
“Please avoid downtown Richmond as protesters have assembled there,” a tweet from Richmond police said Tuesday. “They are currently concentrated in the area of E. Broad and 11th Streets. They are heading westbound at the time.”
8News’ Jackie DeFusco recorded video of several vehicles with National Guard soldiers inside leaving Capitol Square and turning onto Broad St.
The increasing public presence of the National Guard comes after protests Monday where tear gas was fired at demonstrators near the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond before the city’s 8 p.m. curfew. Richmond’s mayor and its police chief apologized after videos surfaced on social media of people being gassed before the curfew was in effect.
Monday was the fourth consecutive night of protests in the wake of death of George Floyd, who died on May 25 after an encounter with four Minneapolis police officers who were responding to a call that he had allegedly used counterfeit money to purchase cigarettes from a local store. Video taken from the scene showed the officers pin Floyd, who was handcuffed, to the ground for several minutes.
All of the officers involved were fired and the officer seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he complained that he couldn’t breathe, Derek Chauvin, was eventually charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.