RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Recent uprisings in Richmond have many concerned residents questioning what’s next?
Citizens and local leaders in the city spoke out at a community town hall at Libby Hill Park Tuesday night. The message was clear: stop the violence.
James Minor, a community activist and local Richmond NAACP President says the destruction is evil.
“We’re getting tired of the foolishness that’s going on in our city,” Minor said.
Riots, he says, are overshadowing the true message peaceful protestors want to convey: racial justice and police reform.
“There are bad actors in the police department but they’re also bad actors when it comes to the rioters,” Minor said.
Deputy Chief John O’Kleasky told 8News he believes the outside agitators are trying to create tension between police and the community. He continued by saying the department supports lawful First Amendment activity and wants to work together with residents. He also adds that investigators are aware some of the groups wreaking havoc in the city are Antifa-influenced.
“We’re all tired,” he said. “I think we’re all physically, mentally, and emotionally spent and I think it’s time to come together and heal and to work towards a better Richmond.”
Delegate Delores McQuinn was also in attendance and said what’s happening across the city is unacceptable. She denounced anyone who aims to tear the city apart.
“Our police department and our city are being taxed every day for what is going on in the city of Richmond. And taxed in a way that we are the taxpayers who are going to have to pay for everything that’s destroyed,” McQuinn said.
VCU President Michael Rao, Ph. D., says the university is facing more than $100,000 worth of damage from riots over the weekend. Organizers of Tuesday’s event say the chaos over recent days is not affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
One gentleman in attendance added, “It’s not the protestors that are doing this. Who is doing this? It’s the pretenders. It’s imposters. It’s those that come in and try to co-opt it. It’s not the protestors.”
Former city council member Michelle Mosby voiced a list of concerns she and others have experienced firsthand.
She said she realizes people are taking their anger over the death of George Floyd to the streets but destroying property and hurting people is the wrong way to show it.
“We got work to do,” Mosby said. “But we can’t let the ills we’ve faced for decades be hijacked.”
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