Governor declares state of emergency over protests
Richmond institutes nightly 8 p.m. curfew in response to violence, vandalism
Following nights of heated and violent nationwide protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency and activated the state National Guard to assist local law enforcement in quelling “escalating violence across the commonwealth.”
“This emergency declaration will provide the necessary support to localities as they work to keep our communities safe,” said Northam, citing civil unrest taking place over the weekend in Richmond, Roanoke and Prince William County. “There are many voices speaking out for justice and healing across the United States and in our commonwealth, but others are exploiting this pain and inciting violence.”
In Richmond, where a GRTC bus and the Daughters of the Confederacy building were set aflame and protesters broke windows in some downtown businesses and defaced the city’s Confederate monuments with graffiti, city Mayor Levar Stoney received permission from Northam to institute a nightly 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew through Wednesday, June 3. Richmond is one of more than 20 cities nationwide under curfew in response to the widespread protests over police brutality against African Americans and other people of color.
“The past two nights, we’ve seen what could have been peaceful protests turn violent and destructive,” said Stoney. “We’re taking these steps to promote lawful and safe demonstration and protect both people and property.”
While many protesters across the nation have been peaceful, there has also been looting, arson and violence taking place on streets in more than 30 cities, from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Police across the United States have deployed tear gas, flash bang grenades and rubber bullets against protesters and members of the media, while protesters in several cities have lobbed bottles and rocks at police and set fire to police cars and other property.
According to the governor’s emergency declaration, damage in Richmond has included “the burning of two buildings, vehicle fires, debris and dumpster fires, vandalism, looting and … damage to law enforcement vehicles. ”
In Hampton Roads, Black Lives Matter 757 protesters shut down the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and a stretch of Interstate 64 for about an hour Friday night.
The curfew in Richmond prohibits people from being present in any public place, including roadways, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless they are:
- traveling to or from home, work or a place of worship;
- hospital staff; members of the press;
- state or city of Richmond employees or volunteers;
- military personnel, including National Guard troops;
- emergency medical transit workers; or other emergency workers.
Those caught violating curfew can be charged with a class one misdemeanor.
Four Minneapolis police officers were fired and former officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the May 25 killing of George Floyd during an arrest that bystanders recorded on video, which received international news coverage and went viral on social media. Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, seemingly ignoring Floyd’s pleas of “I can’t breathe.”
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