RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Kim Gray is speaking out to 8News about what she thinks was a lack of police presence after dozens of protesters gathered in front of her home Wednesday night.
Richmond Police told 8News no one was available for an interview Friday. They referred to the following statement, which was sent Thursday night:
“Richmond Police monitored a protest Wednesday night that began at Belvidere and Clay streets at approximately 7 pm before moving into the Jackson Ward neighborhood later in the evening.
As the protesters traveled throughout Jackson Ward, the group grew in number and the volume of their protesting increased.
At approximately 10:35 pm, Richmond Police and the Department of Emergency Communications received calls from Councilwoman Kimberly Gray and other Jackson Ward residents concerning the protest. Officers were dispatched and established telephone contact with the councilwoman. They advised her throughout the protest in front of her home. The group was closely monitored for any actions that would have threatened public safety and dispersed after 15 minutes.”Statement from Richmond Police Department
Gray said she was in telephone contact with the police lieutenant in command, who advised her to go inside her home. “They said, ‘These aren’t people coming to dialogue. They already have bats and shields in hand and we think they’re coming to cause you harm,'” Gray said.
Although RPD said officers were dispatched, Gray said she never saw any.
“I didn’t see any uniformed officers, my neighbors didn’t see any uniformed officers, my professional security force did not see any uniformed officers, no blue lights, no marked police cars arrived,” she told 8News.
The RPD lieutenant also told Gray there was a police plane circling above.
“I said, ‘If someone opens fire on my home, there’s nothing that airplane can do to protect me or my family,'” Gray said.
The councilwoman said she spoke with Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith on Thursday about the incident, who told her, “Their strategy is to not engage because they said they (the protesters) are looking for opportunities to provoke the police and have altercations,” Gray told 8News. “I don’t agree with that philosophy. I think that when people come aggressively, in an intimidating and threatening way, to anyone’s home, that the police should respond appropriately,” she added.
In RPD’s statement, the police department said the group dispersed after 15 minutes. Gray said the protest went on for a little over 20 minutes, however.
Gray was disappointed no citations were given out Wednesday night. She referred to a Virginia law which states it is a misdemeanor to picket before or about a person’s residence or to assemble in a manner which disrupts or threatens to disrupt someone’s right to tranquility in their home.
The picketing charge led to the arrest of 11 people last month, who police say were protesting in the city’s Huguenot neighborhood, in front of Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin’s home.
All were released on summons.