RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Fires were set, windows were smashed and 16 people were arrested as demonstrations continued for a second night in Virginia’s capital city, Richmond’s police chief said at a news conference Monday.
The protests on Sunday evening followed demonstrations Saturday night that had been billed by some as support for protesters on the other side of the country in Portland, Oregon. That city has been experiencing ongoing tensions between protesters and U.S. agents at the federal courthouse.
Richmond police Chief Gerald Smith said his department saw a flyer calling for demonstrations Sunday that carried the same tone of “intimidation” and ”wanting to produce fear” that flyers for Saturday night’s protests had contained.
Smith said Sunday night’s damage included three fires as well as smashed windows, including one at the police department for Virginia Commonwealth University.
The chief said that the ages of those arrested ranged from 17 to 45. Charges included trespassing, riot with a dangerous weapon and transport of a loaded rifle within city limits.
“The city of Richmond is open and welcomes those who would like to come here in expression of their First Amendment rights,” Smith said. “However, we have to take action when we know that violence is coming.”
Smith said police took a proactive stance and began making arrests in Monroe Park after 10 p.m. The park “is clearly closed dusk,” the chief said.
The chief said that his department is working on identifying any groups that were affiliated with Sunday’s demonstrations. Some individuals from Saturday night have been identified as being from both left-wing and right-wing movements, he said.
On Saturday night, Virginia State Police and Richmond police said they worked to clear a crowd of a several hundred demonstrators that had ripped down police tape and moved forward with lasers and firecrackers.
Six men among the protesters were arrested that night and face various charges, including unlawful assembly, rioting with a firearm and assault on a law enforcement officer.
Protesters had been planning Saturday’s demonstration for days. It was called “Richmond Stands with Portland,” news outlets reported, in an apparent reaction to ongoing tensions between protesters and U.S. agents at the federal courthouse in Oregon’s largest city.
Weeks of nationwide unrest have struck several U.S. cities since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.