RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — A police standoff with protestors involving pepper spray was documented Sunday night, after Richmond police say an “unlawful assembly” was declared near the J.E.B. Stuart statue on Monument Avenue.
“There was a helicopter circling with the spotlight going to this general area,” nearby resident Steve Daniel said. “There were three pops in a row, it was, it sounded like tear gas canisters.”
Daniel’s experience–not uncommon on Monument Avenue over the past three weeks–as Confederate monuments continue to be tagged with graffiti and where the statue of Jefferson Davis was toppled by rioters.
Around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Richmond police tweeted about the unlawful assembly but did not initially provide specifics. Shortly after 10 p.m. they noted the move was made because of an attempt to bring down the J.E.B Stuart statue with rope.
Richmond resident Marcia Cameron believes as long as the statues are up, protests will continue.
“I feel like if it goes on much longer it’s going to get uglier, and uglier. I don’t wan to see people hurt,” Cameron said.
Richmond City Council members Stephanie Lynch and Mike Jones have been vocal supporters for taking down Confederate statues, now asking if it can be done as soon as possible.
City residents like Anthony Fisher and Frank Hunt say the statues should come down, but not at the risk of someone’s safety.
“A lot of people are anxious and a lot of people want things to change today or tomorrow,” Fisher said.
“People have mixed emotions and there are some people that want hands-in on history, you know?” Hunt asked.
To-date, five statues have been toppled across the City of Richmond–three of which are Confederate statues.
An official in Mayor Levar Stoney’s office says the city is researching if the removal of Confederate statues can be done before July 1, when localities like Richmond can start the process to get rid of them.