RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Questions are being raised over the Richmond Police Department’s enforcement of the city’s new ban on carrying firearms in certain areas.
Following two demonstrations in downtown Richmond in recent weeks, both including people armed with guns, the police department’s response has been mum over one demonstration where the ordinance was apparently violated.
The concern comes after a “Stop the Steal” rally two weeks ago where demonstrators gathered on Main and 10th streets to protest President Donald Trump’s projected loss in the presidential election. Several attendees were armed. Many carried firearms. Some were stopped on city roads, blocking the right of way.
Fast forward to last Saturday, where armed demonstrators were back in RVA. While police posters titled “firearms prohibited beyond this point” were visible and despite the new city ordinance, the presence of guns Saturday did not lead to police arresting anyone.
In part, the ordinance defines no one can carry firearms on or around public rights used for permitted events or near an event requiring one.
The justification from the police department’s public affairs unity was because “conduct of the gathering did not meet the threshold for a violation of the city ordinance prohibiting firearms during permitted events, or events that would otherwise require a permit.”
The department added that demonstrators stopped on Bank Street, a state roadway and not the city’s.
Armed demonstrators did block rights of way during the “Stop the Steal” rally, however. According to police, officers did not arrest anyone that evening for violating the ordinance.
Richmond city Councilmember Stephanie Lynch is questioning the decision.
“It’s the law and it needs to be enforced,” said Lynch, who is vying for action. “My hope is that RPD is doing the due diligence and investigating who came into our city and broke this ordinance.”
The councilwoman adds that she has spoken to Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith.
“I believe in my heart, and I think he does too, that this ordinance was a great tool in our toolbox to promote public safety,” she said. “I the sense that he is going to do his diligence and make sure that we are taking every precaution possible.”
8News asked police why no one was cited or arrested for violating the new gun ban two weeks ago. 8News did not receive a response then, and also did not receive an explanation after following up with police about the armed demonstration that occurred this past Saturday.