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As Hundreds Gather by Lee Monument, Richmond Photographer Donates Portraits

gathering at lee monument sunday
Sunday night, people continued to take pictures, played music and danced by the Lee statue. (Sara McCloskey / VPM)

Hundreds of people flocked Monument Avenue Sunday morning to get a glimpse of the transformed Confederate statues. 

The multi-racial crowd included families with kids, a graduate wearing his cap and gown, and local photographer Keith King who wanted to make sure he was documenting the history taking place. He’s been taking stills of the statues, now emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe,” and the tributes and stories of those killed by police around the country placed around  the base of the Robert E. Lee monument. 

When he sees someone holding an interesting sign, a family or kids - King offers to take their photographs. 

“Anything that captures my photographer's eye, that’s what I’m shooting,” King said. “People are enjoying the shots and once they see them, they’re asking me can they get copies… Freelance photography is my passion and my business as well, but it’s not about money today.”

King said he just turned 47 years old and sees this as a pivotal point in the Civil Rights history of Richmond.

“This moment, with the protests, with how many people are protesting, the diversity of the protesters -- I think things are at a head right now where you’re going to see some momentous changes, and I don’t think we’re going back,” said King.

King said he wants to see more constructive changes, including more oversight of police and consequences for any misconduct. He added that Richmond’s City Council should hold the mayor accountable for the actions of the Richmond Police Department, and increase oversight of the department.

Later in the evening, people continued to take pictures, played music and danced by the Lee statue. A young man, leading the group of around 200 in chants, highlighted that everyone needed to “look out for each other” during this time. The mood overall was celebratory, as people offered food and drinks to others around the statue. 

The speaker also mentioned news from Minnesota. The majority of the Minneapolis City Council said at an event Sunday that they support dismantling the police department, following the death of George Floyd in police custody. The city’s mayor has previously said he does not support the move, according to reporting from Minnesota Public Radio.

While the night was relatively calm, authorities arrested a 36-year-old Hanover County man for allegedly driving through a group of protesters around 6 p.m. Sunday. According to a press release from the Henrico County Police Division, the incident happened on Richmond's Northside on Lakeside Avenue near Vale Street. The driver of the vehicle, Harry H. Rogers, was arrested and charged with assault and battery. Police told VPM News that a protester was evaluated by first responders after they say they were hit by the vehicle, but refused any further treatment. 

Catherine Komp and Sara McCloskey contributed to this reporting. 

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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