The head of police in Richmond, Virginia choked up describing how rioters set a building on fire and wouldn’t let a fire truck get to the scene, forcing the officers to forcefully intervene to save a child trapped inside.
Peaceful protests in Richmond escalated into violence on Saturday, with radical mob setting ablaze a police cruiser, a bus and several buildings, including the United Daughters of the Confederacy headquarters. One of their targets was a building in Broad Street, in which there was a child, Richmond Police Chief Will Smith told journalists on Sunday.
Just a picture of the “peaceful” protest here in Richmond, VA. Courtesy of my living room window. Disgusting actions on the “protestors” part. pic.twitter.com/w3PsgXuVBY
— Austin (@AustinDMarshall) May 30, 2020
“They prohibited us from getting on scene. We had to force our way to make a clear path for the fire department,” he said.
Protesters intercepted that fire apparatus several blocks away with vehicles and blocked fire department’s access [to the burning building]. Inside that building was a child!
Richmond gotta cop car on fire pic.twitter.com/qiKTdNxjkO
— Moon Rock (@jack_polar) May 30, 2020
At this point Smith seemed overwhelmed with emotion and had to take pause before he could continue. “When you take a legitimate issue and hijack it for unknown reasons, that is unacceptable to me, to [the police department], to the city of Richmond,” he said. “It truly is not Richmond. It’s not even Virginia. It’s not even the mid-Atlantic!”
Many of the protests in Richmond have splintered off, but ~1 a.m., responders are still putting out at GRTC bus on fire near the intersection of Broad and Monroe. Police sprayed pepper spray to get people off the street. #RichmondVA pic.twitter.com/CJ5Ie2D6Dt
— Kate Masters (@kamamasters) May 30, 2020
The police chief blamed the violence in the city on organized outsiders, who “had traveled many states to be here,” saying charges against instigators may be filed soon.
Chief William C. Smith comments on a challenging situation during last night’s protests in #RVA. You can watch the rest of this @CityRichmondVA press conference here: https://t.co/jvzqcaRA3i pic.twitter.com/LCHrIIAeM2
— Richmond Police (@RichmondPolice) May 31, 2020
Richmond is among dozens of cities across the US rocked by rioting amid nationwide protests against police brutality. The wave of public outrage was unleashed by the choking death of black man George Floyd. He was killed while in custody of the Minneapolis, after a white officer kneeled on his neck and ignored his pleas to let him breathe.
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