RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Protests and rallies took place around Richmond Tuesday as the legislative special section got underway.
Protesters gathered outside the Virginia State Capitol calling for police accountability and defunding the Richmond Police Department. One speaker at the rally said, “We will continue to fight for justice and reformation.”
“Along with other bills that will revolutionize the way that we are able to walk freely, breathe freely, have children, be families, be queer, be trans, be Black out here on the streets,” one protester said to the crowd.
Some protesters marched from the Capitol to the VCU Siegel Center where lawmakers convened for the special session.
Around 3 p.m., protesters calling to defund the police blocked W. Broad Street near Marshall and Ryland streets, according to a post from reporter Alex Thorson on Twitter.
VCU’s alert system notified subscribers via SMS and the school’s mobile app multiple times today regarding public assemblies around the Monroe Park campus. Updates shortly before 2 p.m. and again around 3:10 p.m. alerted people to avoid the area near the intersection of Harrison and W. Broad streets.
“In anticipation of the General Assembly meeting at VCU’s Siegel Center, VCU Police has been working with Virginia Capitol Police, Virginia State Police and Richmond Police to ensure that the area is safe,” said Corey Byers, public information officer for VCU Police, in an email. “VCU Police has been monitoring multiple protests that have occurred downtown and near the Siegel Center.”
GRTC’s Pulse rapid transit service was also disrupted Tuesday afternoon. Routes 14 and 78 were temporarily detoured, but have resumed their regular routes, according to a representative for GRTC.
At the Science Museum, a group calling for more public school funding rallied outside as well. A flyer for the Fund Our Schools gathering that circulated on social media asked attendees to “Wear your face masks & red!”
During one interaction Tuesday morning, a member of the Fund Our Schools group and a member of the gun laws demonstration clashed, loudly expressing their own viewpoints.
“Why don’t you come over here and help fund our schools – and raise awareness for the funding of our schools,” said the school funding protestor. “Write a check. (Turns to the crowd.) Who’s accepting checks for schools…”
“We call on our lawmakers to take lessons from past recessions and not to repeat the same mistakes that landed us here in the first place,” another woman said to the crowd.
Protestors asking for rent relief rallied nearby at the Department of Motor Vehicles office on W. Broad Street. The group called for a moratorium on evictions until April 2021.
“We are asking for a moratorium until April. Long enough to hold us over, this pandemic is not going anywhere,” a protester said.
“This pandemic is not going anywhere,” said a woman speaking at the event.
Downtown, a group demonstrating open carry laws were seen walking along E. Grace Street near the Virginia State Capitol. Mike Dunn, organizer of the group known as the Boogaloo Bois, was one of dozens heavily armed on Richmond streets.
“Any gun law is an infringement. I want to see all gun laws repealed,” Dunn said.
Dunn told 8News the group doesn’t identify with a political party but does stand for police accountability.
“We’re gonna have justice for Duncan Lemp,” Dunn said. “We’re gonna have justice for Breonna Taylor.”