Peaceful Rally for Women’s Health Dispersed by SWAT Team in Richmond


    Thanks to my friend JR Tolbert for the images from Richmond, the first of which he annotated, “#waronwomen rally in Richmond for women’s health,” and the second “SWAT team dispersed the peaceful crowd.” Also, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, “Thirty women’s-rights demonstrators were arrested this afternoon in a protest at the state Capitol that drew hundreds of protesters and Virginia State Police in riot gear.” Why? “Capt. Raymond Goodloe of the Virginia Division of Capitol Police…said those arrested were likely accused of either trespassing or unalawful assembly.” Uh huh.

    UPDATE: JC Wilmore of The Richmonder just posted video. I’m bumping that to the top, photos now after the “fold.” JC writes, “A group of peaceful protesters opposed to the Republican Party’s War on Women are surrounded by riot police and dragged away under the guns of a SWAT team.”

    UPDATE #2: The Washington Post reports: “The group had a permit to rally at the Bell Tower on Capitol Square earlier in the day, but Goodloe said rallies are not allowed on the Capitol steps. The group had planned to march to the Executive Mansion where Gov. Bob McDonnell lives after the rally.”

    UPDATE #3: Washington Kaplan Post #FAIL!!! Uh guys, this was NOT an “anti-abortion rally”. Unbelievable.

    UPDATE #4: Now the Kaplan Post dumb***es are calling it an “abortion rally.” WTF is an “abortion rally?”

    UPDATE #5: Richmond’s Style Weekly (“Richmond’s alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion”) has more, including “Some of the State Police officers wore green camouflage and carried rifles and canisters of tear gas (no tear gas was used, however).”

    • Teddy Goodson

      Syria-on-the-James River? Or Wisconsin-on-the-James?

      Is our Governor a Scott Walker clone?

      Too bad the signs were not more prominently displayed… what was the trooper saying to the woman on the end and what was she saying to him? This was a time for a formal public statement, but as a first rally (or second if you count the silent protest by 1,100) it is a good one, and the women will learn as they go along. Obviously, our good Governor Walker-McDonnell thinks that with a show of overwhelming force, he can nip in the bud these dangerous women. While the Republicans obviously will bull ahead with their agenda, rolling over anybody in their path, there will be a day of reckoning.

    • jwsevert

      Since 1978, I’ve been in and around the Capitol during many sessions of the General Assembly and have witnessed numerous protests over the years.  I have never seen such an excessive police presence as has been on display during the recent rallies for women’s health.

      Snipers in bushes?  A state police paramilitary vehicle?  Black-booted and clad, helmeted riot police?  Surveillance by a state police helicopter?

      If the Capitol Police or the State Police are aware of a credible threat to the safety of an official or officials, then the existence, not the details, of such a threat should be disclosed.  Barring that, however, this disproportionate display of police power can only been seen as a chilling and unwarranted suppression of free speech.

      The extreme nature of the police action raises a number of questions that should be answered by state officials:

      Did the Governor, the Governor’s staff or a political appointee (collectively, the “Governor”) order or encourage the specific actions questioned above?

      What is the Governor afraid of?  Does he fear a massive expression of free speech similar to the one that confronted Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker?  Has this Governor developed a plan, protocol or any similar scheme to discourage the presence of citizens in or around the Capitol or to “nip in the bud” expressions of poltical opinion by groups of citizens?

      Was there a similar police presence several months ago at the anti-choice demonstration addressed by Attorney General Cuccinelli?  If not, why not?  It would seem that the presence of a statewide elected official would merit greater, not less, police protection.

      For many years, I had admired the dedication, skill, good humor and proportionality of Virginia’s Capitol Police. Those sentiments have been badly shaken.  

    • From Virginia New Majority:

      Over 1000 Virginians Rally to Demand an End to the War on Women

      33 arrested in peaceful sit-down at Capitol Building

      Richmond, VA-           Demanding that Governor McDonnell veto the notorious “Ultrasound Bill” passed in the Virginia Senate this week, over 1000 Virginians rallied at the State Capitol today to call for an end to the Virginia Legislature’s ‘War on Women.’

      “The past few weeks have shown us that some of our politicians are willing to throw our health and well-being to the wolves to pursue an extreme agenda,” said Phaedra Jackson of Virginia New Majority. “They’ve come after students, workers, families, immigrants, and women. All Virginians are potential targets of this radical agenda.”

      After rallying at the Capitol Building’s southeast steps, the assembled crowd has instructed to disperse. 33 people refused to heed the order and peacefully sat down on the steps, linking arms and calling for the Governor’s commitment to veto the Ultrasound Bill, HB462.

      “Governor McDonnell and his allies in the State Legislature are deliberately ignoring the voices of Virginians from all over the Commonwealth and bringing national shame to our state government,” said Sara Wallace-Keeshen, also of Virginia New Majority. “The solution is to veto HB 462 and stop the war on women today.”

    • Roland the HTG

      My parents are on the ground. Dad is helping legal team, mom helping organize rally to demonstrate against the treatment of those arrested.

      30+ (mostly women) have been held under arrest on police buses for more than 4 hours. When they have to go to the bathroom, they’re being forced to do so on another bus in front of male police officers.

      The rally is forming outside the 1st Precinct at 9th and Lee. Those in the area: please go. If anyone can start getting in touch with reporters to let them know what’s going on, this is a story that needs to be told.

    • Delegate Delores McQuinn (D-70th, Richmond City) Statement on Arrest of Women’s Rights Protestors

      Richmond-“Today’s arrests at the Capitol are just the latest example of government overreach that we’ve seen in recent weeks. The men and women who marched on Capitol Square have a right to peacefully protest without the threat that they will be arrested for exercising that right.

      At several recent women’s rights events, there has been an overabundance of police presence. In fact, the Capitol Police Tactical Team has been at all of the events. I have never seen a similar police presence when guns rights advocates assemble on Capitol Square on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. We must ask the question: what are they so afraid of? Women demanding the right to be treated with respect shouldn’t illicit arrest.

      I fully, adamantly support the right for all persons to peacefully protest the actions of their government. I know that I’m not the only legislator who is listening to these women as they fight to maintain the same level of dignity and compassion shown to their male counterparts.

      Today’s actions are a sad reminder that our progress towards equality for all Virginians has not been achieved.”

    • Bumble Bee

      Never have cared much for the state police.  Too many times they have been used as the governor’s private goon squad.  This  goes all the way back to labor unrest in the coal fields of southwest.  Threaten to strike one of the coal barons for better wages or working conditions and in would go the governor’s private little goon squads to “keep the peace” (read intimidate the strikers).  Local police should have been sufficient,  troopers served no real purpose beyond intimidation.  What we are seeing now goes way over the top.  Armed swat team members, an armored car, riot police for a few demonstrators.  I think Bobby McD can kiss his chances for higher elected office good bye.  Couldn’t happen to a more deserving fellow.


      Women fought for decades to achieve equality with men and the right to control their personal medical decisions.  My mother was legally prohibited from attending most Virginia universities or professional schools, was unable to buy a car without the signature of a man, or choose when she wanted to have a child when she reached adulthood in Virginia in 1962.  Thanks to the victories won by women over the last forty years, my three daughters will have choices and opportunities in life that my mother, my grandmothers, and their predecessors could have never dreamed of founded.  These opportunities are founded upon economic equality and the right to decide when to give birth to a child.

      The ultrasound bill is three steps backwards for Virginia women.  Forcing women who have been diagnosed as carrying an anecephelatic or non-viable fetus to undergo a second ultrasound and place a picture of it in her medical records for seven years or longer is state sponsored torture.

      These  arrests vividly evidence the depth of the anger, betrayal, and dismay that Virginians feel by the passage of House Bill 462 by both chambers.  Earlier this session, the Republican majority in the House of Delegates refused to schedule the Equal Rights Amendment for a hearing even after it has been passed by the Virginia Senate.  The Commonwealth’s decision to send in police with riot gear and arrest unarmed peaceful protestors demonstrate the depth of paranoia that Virginia Republicans continue to feel about women given equal rights to men in the law.  The arrest of women and men exercising their Constitutional rights on the steps of the Capitol of the state that is the home for the author of the First Amendment is especially ironic.  

      The protests and arrests are also evidence that there will be electoral consequences in Virginia in 2012 and 2013 for anyone who voted in favor of ultrasound or anti-contraception legislation this session.

    • Wayne Powell, Candidate for nomination against Cantor, Denounces Police Overreaction at Demonstrations

      Richmond – E. Wayne Powell, candidate for the Democratic nomination against Eric Cantor in the Seventh Congressional District, today released this statement about the incidents at the Capitol. Mr. Powell said, “While I certainly believe that any and all demonstrations should be peaceful, lawful, and not put participants or passersby in any danger, I believe that having state police show up in riot gear and with canisters of tear gas to face women and men who are demonstrating ‘loudly with silence,’ is an overreaction and a provocation to violence.”

      “These individuals who showed up to protest were exercising their constitutional right to assembly and free speech. They were not threatening anyone, they were not destroying property, they were not hindering anyone else’s activities. While I certainly would have preferred that they had not chosen to ‘occupy’ the Capitol steps, at the same time, I question why the police thought Virginians on the steps of their own Capitol was so dangerous.

      “To have then forcibly removed these people and risked injury to them seems to me a serious overreaction and an incitement to further violence. I would ask the governor to treat protesters with the same respect and courtesy he gives those numerous individuals who enter the General Assembly Building every day armed with guns and ammunition. In these times after Congressman Gabby Giffords’ shooting, I think we should be significantly more concerned about armed individuals in an office building than peaceably assembled demonstrators outside on public property.”

    • pvogel

      Time to call it what it is…….. WAR

      Fight for your rights.    At the alexandria st paddys parade,   for the first time ever, a politico running for office refused to take a foto with me. And George Macaca Allen   says he endorses her.  I refer to that piece of crap   councillady, Alicia Hughes

    • aznew

      The most disturbing thing about this video is the unnecessary show of force.

      One one level, I understand why the protesters were arrested. Not that I think that was right, but I understand the legal situation that makes that occur. Indeed, that seemed to be a point of that particular part of the protest, and thus was solidly within the American tradition of civil disobedience.

      What is disturbing is the level of public force displayed. Of course, good police practice and prudence requires certain levels of security, but this was clearly intended as a show of force to intimidate people — not just these protesters, but to let every Virginian know that if YOU come down to the Capitol to speak your mind, you could get hurt.

      Is this really what Conservatives and Bob McDonnell’s supporters in the Commonwealth want? Don’t we all share a desire for a state in which all people are free to disagree and protest unimpaired by threats of physical harm from the State Police? And just to be clear, I don’t blame the police officers here, who are trying to navigate the difficult waters of balancing Constitutional rights with the need for public safety.

      The fault for this, yet another embarrassment for the Commonwealth, lies totally with Bob McDonnell.

      What the Hell is McDonnell thinking?

      Conservatives and Tea Partiers claim they hare the true lovers of freedom and liberty in this country, in the spirit of our founding fathers. When will they condemn this action by their own government upon our fellow citizens?