RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – On Wednesday night, protesters made their way to the home of Richmond councilwoman and mayoral candidate Kim Gray.
Gray told 8News this is not the first time protesters have been in her neighborhood, but it was the first time a large number of people targeted her home.
Councilwoman Gray says that she called 911 once the protesters gathered in front of her Jackson Ward home, some with assault rifles and others yelling “burn it down.” Gray says that she called the police, and so did her neighbor, but no one came.
Gray said she was in communication with people who are part of the movement.
“People who know me from working in the community and respect my work don’t abide with what happened the other night, they just happened to be caught in the crowd,” Gray said.
On Thursday, 8News first contacted Richmond Police at 9:46 a.m. to ask about Gray’s claims and the incident the night before. Reporter Laura Perrot received a statement from RPD at 9:55 p.m. that said the following:
“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.”
This morning, councilwoman Kim Gray contradicted RPD’s claim that officers were dispatched to her home. Gray says she never saw the officers. She said she was speaking on the phone with the lieutenant in command during the protest, but he was mainly just warning her. However, Gray says she did see a police plane circling overhead.
According to Gray and information from Richmond Police, this is how events unfolded on Wednesday evening at Gray’s home:
5:30 p.m. Councilwoman Kim Gray receives a call from someone participating in a protest at Monroe Park asking her if her home is on fire. Gray responds saying her home is not on fire. She then proceeds to call Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith directly to let him know her house could be a target for protesters. According to Gray, the police chief told her he would let the officers in her area know.
When asked about the call regarding the fire at her home, Gray said “I think that they [protestors] showed up and started shouting, ‘burn it down,’ so that may have been part of the plan. It may still be part of someone’s plan – I’m not certain why they said that. Sometimes it’s like the telephone game and I immediately alerted police when I heard it.”
6:00 p.m. Gray said her volunteer security guards arrived around 6 p.m. “They’re always on call if I need them. They are volunteering their time and services, but they believe that every family deserves protection and that political intimidation should not be tolerated,” Gray said.
7 p.m. Richmond Police confirm protesters gathered at Belvidere and Clay streets at approximately 7 p.m. before moving into Jackson Ward, where Gray lives. Gray notices protesters on her block and has security volunteers in place to secure the safety of her family.
10:35 p.m. About 200 protesters gather in front of Gray’s home. She claims some were armed and others were yelling “burn it down, burn it down” when referring to her home. Gray says she and some of her neighbors called the police at this time, but no one responded.
“The roadway was blocked for more than 20 minutes and they had assault rifles engaged and pointed, and they had lasers pointed into my children’s bedroom windows,” said Gray.
Protestors have open-carried firearms during recent protests in the city. Gray says that she did not see protestors with their weapons engaged at her home, but she did hear from her neighbors and has seen this activity elsewhere during recent events.
“Wednesday I got calls from my neighbors who were looking out about the weapons pointed up – the assault rifles pointed up. I’ve got photographs of other instances in other neighborhoods in The Fan and surrounding areas, where people are riding through the sunroofs with assault rifles pointed up. So, no, I did not… When I tried to look out the window, the crowd started yelling and pointing up to me and I got out of the window because there were lasers shining into my face and I didn’t know if they were ready to shoot or if they were just trying to blind me. Either way it wasn’t good,” Gray said.
The protesters later dispersed leaving behind lists of demands on Gray’s front gate and in her yard, including “re-open the Marcus-David Peters case” and “defund the police and fund black futures.”