Heavy police presence at Saturday night’s protests in Roanoke, businesses close early from threat

Virginia News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Protesters marched in Roanoke throughout the afternoon and evening on Saturday night, causing many businesses to close their doors early.

The following businesses are temporarily closed, or closing early, amid the protests:

  • Sheetz: Orange Avenue, Williamson Road, and Peters Creek Road locations are temporarily closed.
  • Target: Valley View store closed at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday night and will reopen at 8:00 a.m. Monday, June 1.
  • Walmart: Valley View, Bonsack, and Clearbrook locations all closed early on Sunday night and plan to reopen Monday.
  • Valley View Mall: closed at 5:00 p.m.
Protesters gather in Downtown Roanoke with heavy police presence

The protest, organized by Black Lives Matter Roanoke, not only recognized the death of George Floyd but also of Kionte Spencer.

Roanoke resident Yschika Sapp was just one of hundreds gathered at the rally yesterday evening.

“We need justice, and we need to bring awareness to the world that black lives matter just as well as other lives. It’s time. Enough is enough.”

Yschika Sapp

Several people spoke during the event, one being Bernadette Lark.

“Died right here on the streets in Roanoke, not thousands of miles away where George Floyd died, on the street, but it happened here and there’s been no justice.”

Bernadette Lark

After the speakers, protesters made their way into Downtown Roanoke, where they were met by city and state police. Eventually, tension rose during the protest, to the point where police had to use pepper spray. Officers were equipped with tear gas, but it was never used.

Organizers and protesters, alike, say this demonstration is not the end of how they will seek change down the road, starting at the polls.

“Us as a group of people exercise our vote so we can get something that’s tangible, not empty promises, not pretty conversations on social media , but something that’s tangible.”

Blacksburg resident Jason Warren

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