by Brandon Jarvis
Protesters gathered at Monroe Park on Sunday night after a Richmond Police officer drove their vehicle into protesters the previous night.
In case you missed it, protesters confronted a Richmond police car as they were driving their squad car down Monument Avenue on Saturday night. Video shows that the police officer reversed the car briefly, then drove up on the curb striking protesters with their vehicle.
Ali Rockett, a reporter for the Richmond Times Dispatch was on the scene as it happened and spoke to one of the people who were struck by the officer.
Richmond Police issued the following response on Sunday morning:
“The Richmond Police Department is investigating an incident involving an RPD police vehicle in the 400 block of N. Allen Avenue around 9:30 p.m. The Department is currently investigating a possible assault on an officer inside the vehicle as well as reports on social media that a person in the crowd may have been struck by the vehicle. Anyone with information should call the non-emergency line at 804–646–5100.”
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also released a statement on Sunday saying he has asked the Commonwealth’s Attorney office to investigate the matter.
“I believe that last night’s incident requires a full investigation. I have spoken with the Commonwealth’s Attorney and have requested she investigate and expedite this review, along with several other cases from the past two weeks.”
Stoney said he also instructed the police department to place the officer involved in Saturday night’s incident on administrative leave during the investigation.
Late Sunday evening, Richmond Police released another statement providing more details:
As protesters gathered to march to police headquarters, a large group of bicyclists blocked roads to keep bystanders and protesters safe. The crowd marched peacefully down East Franklin street until they approached Madison Street, where they turned left and went one block to the police station.
Richmond Police Department had officers standing in riot gear next to large Richmond City dump trucks blocking Grace Street, forcing the crowd to march north to Broad Street.
The peaceful crowd looped around the station on Broad Street and approached the police station on Jefferson Street, where a protester threw a sparkler onto the ground causing police in riot gear to run down the alley and form a line. The officers were holding what appeared to be a weapon similar to a paintball gun.
The crowd then proceeded down Jefferson Street and turned right onto Grace Street filing into the parking lot directly across from the police station.
The officers in riot gear formed a line at the edge of the lot, with an armored vehicle behind them along with several more officers in riot gear.
As the crowd and police stood peacefully staring at each other, a struggle ensued between the police and one protester.
After several police officers rushed to that protesters and placed them in handcuffs on the ground, another police officer began to disperse pepper spray at random into the crowd.
The Commonwealth Times has video of that incident happening here.
Also, see below:
Just got pepper sprayed by Richmond and Va State Police outside of their Grace Street headquarters. @aeringle and I are safe. Follow him for updates my phone is too slow in larger crowds and he’s faster. pic.twitter.com/DNz4ZMBfeU
— Hannah Eason (@hannaheason_) June 15, 2020
Video: RPD pepper sprayed protesters outside the headquarters on Grace Street. pic.twitter.com/I7H64GymBO
— Andrew Ringle (@aeringle) June 15, 2020
After the pepper spray was sent into the crowd, several protesters were on the ground coughing and screaming, calling for field medics to come and help. Multiple people were vomiting, and medics were rushing from person-to-person using spray bottles to wash out protesters’ eyes.
While the crowd began running backwards when the spraying started, most of the people turned around, and walked back towards the police line.
Eventually a large portion of the crowd left the station at the organizers urging. Greg Schneider of the Washington Post reported that this was a negotiation between police and protesters in order to have the person who was arrested prior to the pepper spray dispersal released from their custody.
As of midnight, the protester was still in custody and a small crowd of protesters remained on the scene in a standoff. I will update this article as new information becomes available.
Also at midnight, several Virginia State Police officers arrived in riot gear and joined the police line in front of the protesters — see a video of their arrival here. The situations began to escalate again shortly after with more protesters showing up and bricks hitting nearby vehicles.
At 12:25 a.m. on Monday morning, several members of the crowd were telling the crowd that the protester who was arrested earlier in the night has been taken to city jail. Henrico Police were seen arriving on the scene shortly after 12:30 a.m.