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UPDATES: In Richmond, Protests Continued as Curfew Approached

protesters gathered at Lee Memorial
Protesters assembled at the Lee Memorial, growing in numbers even as Richmond's 8 p.m. curfew approached. (Photo: Roberto Roldan/VPM News)

UPDATE: June 1, 2020 - 10:44 a.m.

Our reporters had to leave the protests after law enforcement used pepper spray on them. Military vehicles were deployed, and we have reports of large-scale arrests. We'll have more reporting on what happened last night throughout the day.

Original Story:

An hour before Richmond’s set curfew Sunday, about 200 people peacefully protested on the steps of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Ave. The statue, along with other confederate memorials, was vandalized the night before. 

Photos Crixell Matthews/VPM News

Earlier in the day, over a thousand people peacefully weaved through the city, marching and speaking out against the death of George Floyd. They initially organized at Brown’s Island. Donia Feliciano, 26, said she’s frustrated that people still have to speak out against police violence. Feliciano wanted to be there because of her young son and the twins she’s pregnant with.

“I don’t want them to struggle growing up, just because of the color of his skin,” Feliciano said.  

Tanya Epps drove down from the Northern Neck to participate. She said deaths like Floyd’s affect every household, no matter where people live. 

“If we’re supposed to be the land of the free, then every action towards every race should be equal, and it’s never been that way for Black people,” Epps said. 
Epps added that the protests this past weekend gave a voice to the unheard. 

From Brown’s Island they headed to the Capitol, where demonstrators took a knee and put their hands up in front of Capitol Police officers lined up in the square. A larger barricade was set up by the 9th Street entrance of Capitol Square Sunday. 

The night before, a smaller barricade set up by officers near that entrance was taken apart by demonstrators. According to a Capitol Police spokesperson, two officers were injured by objects thrown at them from the crowd and were taken to VCU Medical Center.   

The group then went to the 17th Street Market, where a number of people had the opportunity to speak. Rita Willis was one of the people who took the megaphone. 

“My generation is so proud of you. It’s your turn! We marched back in the 60s. I went to segregated schools but that’s ok. It’s ok, because it brought me to this,” she said to the crowd. 

Willis urged the crowd to continue the work of fighting for justice and to do so in peace. Otherwise, she said, all the work that Dr. King did would be in vain. 

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