RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond experienced three nights of protests and riots this weekend resulting in the destruction of property, looting, fires and arrests.
The protests were in response to the death of George Floyd, who was seen on video being pinned down by three Minneapolis police officers while in custody. One officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on Floyd’s neck as he continuously yelled in distress. Chauvin was fired for his actions and has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Nationwide outrage at the event led to protests and riots in cities across the nation, including Richmond. In a press conference on Sunday, Richmond Police Chief William Smith said that police are looking into whether or not people from outside of the area had traveled to Richmond for the riots and were responsible for instigating some of the violence.
Friday night protest leads to a riot that lasted into early Saturday morning
On Friday evening, what started as a peaceful protest turned into a riot in downtown Richmond. As a result of the violence, stores were looted, buildings around Capital Square were damaged and a police car and GRTC Pulse bus were set on fire.
In response to the riot, Capital Square was closed to the public on Saturday and GRTC started service late on Saturday, and then later suspended service from 8 p.m. Saturday through Sunday night. While no one was injured during the bus burning, GRTC said it didn’t want tot take any chances.
“The safety of our staff and passengers is the most important factor in determining service levels. We can replace property, but we can’t replace people,” said Julie Timm, GRTC Chief Executive Officer.
Mayor Levar Stoney condemned the violence saying “two wrongs don’t make a right.”
“We welcome folks to come and peacefully protest and peacefully demonstrate,” Stoney said on Saturday. “However, what I was taught as a young man, which still follows me to this day, is that two wrongs don’t make a right. Two wrongs do not make a right. The injustice that occurred to George Floyd and others — that is wrong. The destruction of property, the damage to property — that is wrong as well. Two injustices don’t make a right. That doesn’t create justice.”
On Saturday, protests again led to riots that lasted into Sunday morning
Saturday night’s demonstration again devolved into riots with fires around the city and hundreds of people marching along Broad and Belvidere streets holding signs and chanting. The Saturday night riot was the largest of the three nights.
Capital Police told 8News that two officers were taken to VCU Medical Center on Saturday night for leg injuries after they were struck by objects thrown by people gathered outside of Capital Square’s main gate shortly after 9 p.m.
One officer was hit by a baseball bat and the other by a beer bottle.
Police sources also told 8News that Wells Fargo on E. Grace Street near Richmond Police Headquarters was broken into. And according to reports, the windows at Boost mobile on W. Broad Street were smashed as well.
Around 11:30 p.m., a dumpster fire was reported at Brandt and Rhoads Hall at VCU.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy headquarters on Arthur Ashe Boulevard was also vandalized with graffiti that said “F-ck 12” and “police are creepy.”
The Richmond Police Department said a man was shot at 12:30 a.m. Sunday when he was riding in a vehicle that came into contact with rioters in the 2000 block of W. Grace Street. Police say the gunshot came from behind the vehicle and there is no suspect description at this time.
Protesters march in Richmond Sunday night after 8 p.m. curfew, police made arrests
Protests continued through Sunday evening past the 8 p.m. curfew that Governor Ralph Northam established based on Mayor Stoney’s recommendation.
The Richmond Police Department arrested people for breaking curfew. Tear gas was seen in the video below being thrown into a group of people at Monroe Park adjacent to Virginia Commonwealth University’s campus.
While covering the events on Sunday night, Roberto Roldan, a journalist from Virginia Public Media, said he was tear gassed after showing his press credentials to police and yelling, “I am with the press.”
No fires or major vandalism were reported on Sunday night.