RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — 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.”
8News asked whether the mayor envisions putting any pressure on the Richmond Police Department to impose additional disciplinary measures on the officers involved in the incident.
“There’s a process for that. I want to work through the process, there’s also an investigation as well,” Stoney explained. “As I said earlier today, that should not have happened. That should not have happened. When you have, I don’t want to see people who are peacefully protesting being gassed and so I apologized for that, as the mayor of this great city.”
When questioned on his thoughts on calls for him to step down, Stoney said that’s he’s committed to fulfilling his job as mayor.
“I’ve committed, I put my hand on the Bible almost four years ago to do this job to the best of my ability. This has been a difficult situation for everybody, for the last few days but for the last three months if you think about it with the COVID-19 virus. I’m committed to doing that, I’m committed to doing my job to the best of my ability,” Stoney told 8News. “I can’t do it alone. My expectations of the folks here, the folks who might be watching this at home, will help us get to the better place as a city.”
The mayor also defended Chief Smith and said that he is working with him to learn more details about what happened during Monday’s protests.
“I want everyone to know this is a good chief. This is a man with a heart. He loves this city and he loves this department,” Stoney said. “He obviously has high expectations for his people and he’s going to help me get to the bottom of the whole thing as well.”