RPD invites demonstrators to open forum discussion

RPD invites demonstrators to open forum discussion

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Police are working with local protesters to set up a discussion on police brutality and any other issues demonstrators say they're concerned about. This comes after another "die-in" demonstration on busy city streets during rush hour.

Demonstrators rallied right after Richmond Police extended an invite for a town hall meeting. Organizers of the group Justice RVA say they're soon meeting with the police department to coordinate the forum. Meantime, their arm-in-arm protests continued, marching from Monroe Park on Martin Luther King Jr. day, to a Broad Street intersection, to the Richmond Police station.

"Martin Luther King was a rebel, and he fought. So I'm glad that we're out here fighting," said protester Attalah Shabazz.

Dozens of demonstrators lain across the pavement on Broad Street as Richmond and VCU police stood by, flanking the group.

After nearly a dozen local protests since November, Richmond police invited protesters to join them in a public discussion.

"I'd like to offer that... we can get together and really address some of the concerns and issues… really have a conversation instead of confrontation," said Major Steven Drew of the Richmond Police Department.

The protesters immediately responded, accepting the invitation.

"I hope this is genuine…I hope we can really get some things changed…I hope that we can get the Richmond citizens to come out," added Shabazz.

Protesters say they will continue to make their voices heard, even if it means disrupting traffic. They say this type of action is needed until they get the change they are calling for.

"If we didn't disrupt the system... [a forum] wouldn't have happened," said Jamil Jasey of Justice RVA.

Police are hoping for clarification on the issues raised by protesters. Demonstrators have previously named a hose of concerns from police brutality to Monroe Park.

"Yes, there are ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 100 things that people want to happen...because we have to understand that this is a list that's deeply rooted. This is an issue that's been going on for years," said protester Fidelia Igwe.

"Let's talk about issues with police brutality, issues that you all have that we can work together, and see if we can make things better as a group," continued Major Steven Drew, speaking to the demonstrators.

Protesters say it's very important for the community to attend the forum.

At other protests around the country, the 11-minute length has referred to the 11 times Eric Garner, a man killed in an altercation with New York police, told an NYPD officer that he couldn't breathe. By about 5:30 p.m., the protesters had made their way to the Richmond Police headquarters at 200 W. Grace St.

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