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On Saturday, Richmond Police Chief Will Smith was overcome with emotion detailing one of the worst acts of violence carried out in the city during the previous night’s rioting, ostensibly over the death of George Floyd.
According to Smith, rioters set fire to an occupied multi-family residence with a child inside, then repeatedly blocked firefighters’ access to the scene.
Thankfully, officers found a way to secure access and saved the family, including the child.
“One incident that is particularly poignant, that truly illustrates the seriousness of the issues we’re facing,” Smith told reporters. “Protesters intentionally set a fire to an occupied building on [West] Broad Street. This is not the only occupied building that has been set fire to in the last two days.”
“They prohibited us from getting on scene,” the police chief continued. “We had to force our way to make a clear path for the fire department.”
“Protesters intercepted that fire apparatus several blocks away with vehicles and blocked that fire department’s access to the structure fire,” Smith said. “Inside that home was a child.”
“Officers were able to –,” Smith attempted to continue, though he was overcome with emotion, “help those people out of the house.”
“We were able to get the fire department there safely,” the emotional police chief added.
“When you take a legitimate issue and hijack it for unknown reasons, that is unacceptable to me,” Smith stated firmly, “it’s unacceptable to the Richmond Police Department, unacceptable to the city of Richmond.”
Protests began popping up across the nation on Tuesday over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after a police officer had his knee on the 46-year-old’s neck for over eight minutes during an arrest, as shown in viral video footage.
“An eight-minute clip filmed by a person on the street shows Floyd telling police he can’t breathe and begging the cop on top of him to stop before he falls unconscious,” The Daily Wire reported Tuesday. “Officer Derek Chauvin was identified as the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck outside Cup Foods on Chicago Avenue and East 38th Street.”
“He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro,” one bystander is heard telling the officers, according to the video. “You’re f***ing stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?”
The protests quickly turned ugly; arson, looting, and violence spiked in places like Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York City, Rochester, Richmond, and other cities.
Since the incident, all four officers involved in the arrest have been fired, investigations from the FBI and state law enforcement have been opened, and, on Friday, the officer at the center of the incident was taken into custody.
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
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