RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Two Richmond city council members said Tuesday “we are in a crisis in our city,” calling the police response unacceptable after another intense night of clashes on Monday between police and protesters.
“To see protesters in that moment peaceful having tear gas, having chemical irritants, rubber bullets, flash bangs, to have that type of response brings to question, what are we doing in our city,” Councilman Michael Jones.
Jones, along with Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch, wants answers. They say they saw firsthand the pepper spray and tear gas launched at what they call a peaceful crowd. They claim they had to run from the tear gas themselves when they say it was launched at people several blocks away from police headquarters. Jones says, “That was the first time I felt intimidated.”
Councilwoman Lynch wants justice for residents she believes have been unfairly charged, like 22-year old Michaela Hatton. She was arrested Sunday night and accused of hitting an officer in the head with a bullhorn.
“There are several individuals who have gotten charged with felonies. There are mandatory minimums with these sentences. Michaela Hatton is a fellow social worker,” said Lynch.
Lynch admitted to 8News she missed what led up to Hatton’s arrest, arriving afterwards. Both Richmond and Virginia state police claim property has been damaged and some officers have been injured.
Virginia State Police reports one officer was hospitalized after being hit with asphalt. Others report bags of urine tossed at police. To that, Councilman Jones says let’s see it.
“Show video show video, if you have it show it,” he explained.
While the council members defend the group’s nightly gatherings, others told 8News the protesters aren’t peaceful, but that they’re antagonistic and looking for a fight. Some videos viewed by 8News show the crowd taunting officers and hurling profanities. 8News asked if constructive conversation and reform can really happen at these nightly clashes?
Lynch responded, “To that I would say this, we are standing here in the rain talking about and demanding action on policy changes that have needed to happen for decades.”
The council members say they won’t defend bad actors but told 8News they’re not sure items being thrown, even bottles, warranted tear-gassing an entire crowd.
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