What started out as a peaceful demonstration on Saturday in Richmond, Virginia, descended into chaos when the demonstrators made their way to the police station and began rioting.
“Last night, Richmond’s long-held streak of peaceful protest ended,” Richmond Police Department Chief Gerald M. Smith said during a press conference the next day (video below). “To begin, the event last night we had a feel for that something was amiss for about a week before that.”
“A flyer and different versions of a particular flyer were going around the city of Richmond that we believe originated outside the City of Richmond and anyone who saw that flyer or read that flyer could clearly feel its tone,” Smith continued. “Its tone was to have intimidation and fear to the community and that was a cry and a rally to Monroe Park last week anywhere between 8:30 and 9 o’clock in which individuals, several hundred individuals did.”
Smith said that the demonstrators walked peacefully throughout the streets of Richmond until they reached the police station, where the events quickly devolved into a riot.
“These individuals, once they got to the police department, became very aggressive verbally towards the officers who were there,” Smith said. “That quickly escalated to throwing of bricks, batteries, rocks at officers – officers who had to protect themselves with shields. And I will give them great praise for their patience in that arena.”
“A disbursal order was given, the officers continued to take the rocks, the bricks, and the batteries being thrown at them for quiet some time. That continued on,” Smith continued. “It was beyond the point that we could have taken action. When we were forced to action was when the individuals in this crowd, and I’m just going to be blunt, these rioters in the crowd, the rioters [inaudible] this crowd set a dump truck on fire there at police headquarters, which became an entirely different situation.”
Smith said that the fire department responded to the arson fires and that they were subjected to the same attacks as the police officers and that the fire officials did not have the shields and training that the police did for how to respond to violent riots.
The fire department chief said that there were multiple arson fires that were set during the riot.
“If that fire [in the dump truck] was not put out, we may have had a mass casualty incident if those tanks had exploded,” Smith later added.
Smith said that after the rioters were driven from the scene by law enforcement, they continued by setting several fires in dumpsters.
Protesters set a city dump truck ablaze outside RPD Headquarters. Unlawful Assembly has been declared. RPD officers must secure the area before firefighters can respond. pic.twitter.com/xzKkLO7sg8
— Richmond Police (@RichmondPolice) July 26, 2020
DEVELOPING – The #Richmond Fire Department has arrived on scene to two dump truck fires. Reports that the fire was set by a firework in the cab. #Virginia #Protests
📷: @Jaaavis pic.twitter.com/DqmfilZTIz
— SV News 🚨 (@SVNewsAlerts) July 26, 2020
Antifa sets fire to a dump truck in Richmond. pic.twitter.com/l73PHiKQeo
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) July 26, 2020
WATCH (Full press conference):
Chief Gerald M. Smith, Mayor Levar M. Stoney and RFD Chief Melvin Carter on Saturday night's unrest
Chief Gerald M. Smith, Mayor Levar M. Stoney and RFD Chief Melvin Carter speak to reporters on Sunday about Saturday night's unrest in Richmond
Posted by Richmond Police Department on Sunday, July 26, 2020
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