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Protesters Demonstrate Outside Mayor Stoney's Apartment, Pull Down Confederate Statue At VCU

protesters gathering outside of an apartment building
Hundreds of demonstrators protested outside of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney's apartment building on Tuesday night. (Coleman Jennings/VPM)

Richmond protesters took to the streets again Tuesday night, following the forced resignation of Police Chief William Smith. 

Despite the pouring rain, hundreds of protesters met at Monroe Park. They marched to Mayor Levar Stoney’s downtown apartment building, chanting “Sell out Stoney” and banging pots and pans. They demanded he speak up on the police use of tear gas and pepper spray on protesters near Richmond Police Department headquarters Sunday and Monday night.

Community organizer Omari Al-Qadaffi said protesters aren’t satisfied with the resignation of Chief Smith. They want accountability. 

“It’s been over a week since the infamous tear-gassing of the peaceful protesters, and we still have no idea what kind of disciplinary measures are going to be taken or how many police officers are involved,” he said. 

Al-Qadaffi was referring to a June 1 protest at the Robert E. Lee monument, where  Richmond Police fired tear gas at a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. The next day, Stoney asked Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney to investigate the incident and said officers involved in the attack would be pulled from the field during future protests. Few other details have been released. 

Smith’s forced resignation was one of many demands protesters have made in the last three weeks following the police shooting of George Floyd. Local lawmakers have agreed to many of them, including establishing a civilian review board for police misconduct and removing all of the Confederate statues along Monument Avenue. 

DeAndre Spurlock, a Richmond resident who attended Tuesday night’s protest, said he wants to see action on those demands before he starts celebrating.

“[Smith] leaving is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough,” Spurlock said. “Who’s replacing him? What are they going to be doing about it? It’s systemic.”

After demonstrating outside of Stoney’s apartment, the protesters then made their way back to the VCU campus. Around 11:30 p.m., they used a rope to pull down a Confederate statue dedicated to the Richmond Howitzers Battalion. According to the Virginia Mercury, the statue was  unveiled in 1892.

Protesters celebrated its removal by tagging the statue with graffiti and stomping on it before dispersing. 

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