RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) –Richmond Deputy Chief Sydney Collier held a press conference today to address yesterday’s clash between RPD officers and protesters that resulted in 11 arrests.

According to Deputy Police Chief Collier, the Sheriff’s Office was aware that the protest was taking place and they contacted Richmond Police when protesters started to move onto the jail’s property. Deputy Police Chief Collier stated that protesters were not allowed on the public jail’s property and were initially asked to move. When RPD arrived on the scene, they saw parking violations and chose to enforce the parking rules and called for tow trucks to remove the illegally parked vehicles.

Arrests were made after a protester on a bicycle placed himself in front of a tow truck. According to Deputy Police Chief Collier, the cyclist was asked to move before he was arrested.

“He was asked repeatedly to move,” said Deputy Police Chief Collier at the press conference.

“As officers approached this protester, he then rode off on his bicycle to elude capture from the officers. As he was riding away, another officer in the area in an unmarked vehicle pulled up and he tried to elude him by going around him, and the officer got out of the vehicle and tackled the individual on the bicycle to arrest him,” explained the Deputy Police Chief.

After the cyclist was tackled, other police officers and protesters moved to the area where the cyclist was on the ground and an arrest was underway. Protesters who attempted to, “… prevent him from being arrested by the officers,” according to Collier, were arrested as well.

“We do our best to facilitate peaceful protest. We support peaceful protests,” said Deputy Police Chief Collier.

The following people were arrested and charged during the incident on Tuesday night:

Stephen Roach for obstruction of justice and impeding the flow of traffic
Stephen Roach for obstruction of justice and impeding the flow of traffic
Aditya Mohan for obstruction of justice
Aditya Mohan for obstruction of justice
Alex Oxford for obstruction of justice
Alex Oxford for obstruction of justice
Mollie Luck for disorderly conduct
Mollie Luck for disorderly conduct

Stephen Roach for obstruction of justice and impeding the flow of traffic
Benjamine Skromine for obstruction of Justice and impeding the flow of traffic
Rachel Fidlow for obstruction of justice
Rachel Fidlow for obstruction of justice
Jonathan Miranda for disorderly conduct
Jonathan Miranda for disorderly conduct
Carmen Day for disorderly conduct
Carmen Day for disorderly conduct
Gabrielle Brost Hoffman for obstruction of justice
Gabrielle Brost Hoffman for obstruction of justice
Andre Rosson for obstruction of justice
Andre Rosson for obstruction of justice
Susanna Keating for disorderly conduct
Susanna Keating for disorderly conduct

When asked about cyclist’s arrest and the officer’s use of force when tacking the man, Deputy Police Chief Collier said, “The force is met with force. He’s eluding. He’s trying to avoid capture. At some point the officer has to stop him in order to engage him – in order to arrest him. As long as he’s trying to elude, the officer used the only option he had to stop him while he was on the bicycle.”

Deputy Chief Collier said that no complaints regarding excessive use of force have been filed at this time, nor has he received reports of injuries that occurred during the incident.

“In hindsight, it’s always easy to Monday-morning quarterback. But when you’re out there and you’re in the middle of it, it’s your responsibility to do the best that you can… I think the officer did what he had to do in order to bring that situation to a conclusion,” said the Deputy Chief when asked if officers could have done anything differently on Tuesday night.

Alex Oxford, one of the protesters detained, told 8News that while she was at the demonstration protesting conditions in the jail, she said she didn’t expect to be eventually arrested.

“It’s a really horrible place and now I can back that up with personal experience,” she said. “It’s pretty awful.”

Although police charged her with obstruction of justice with force, Oxford said police pushed her into their line of officers. 

“I did not try and get through this line at all. I was standing behind it and I got shoved into it and then they grabbed me,” she told 8News Wednesday. “It’s really straightforward.”

Last night’s demonstration called for the release of everyone incarcerated at the city jail because of the coronavirus outbreak, as it was advertised on Twitter.

As of August 24, more than 100 inmates and staff were quarantined because of a positive COVID-19 test, symptoms or exposure to someone who tested positive for the virus.

You can watch the entire press conference here:

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