RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Ten environmental activists were arrested while protesting in downtown Richmond to raise awareness of climate change issues.
Richmond Police issued ten summonses on people for blocking a roadway. Nine were released on scene, but one refused to accept the summons and was charged with disorderly conduct, police said.
The Richmond People's Climate March began around 7 a.m. at the State Capitol to impress upon lawmakers the need for action on climate change during the General Assembly session. The demonstrators then moved to 2nd and Tredegar streets.
The arrests had our viewers asking questions. They asked us why did police arrest these protestors compared to other groups, like "Black Lives Matter." Richmond has seen protests before that have disrupted traffic. A few months ago, the "Black Lives Matter" protest shut down a part of Broad Street near VCU. "I think police try very hard to respect the right to free speech and the right to protest," says NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin. "On Broad Street the police were able to detour traffic; in this situation it appears they had no alternative. The folks were completely blocking the free passage of others, the police asks them to move aside or protest on the sidewalk, they refused, that constitutes a crime."
The charge of blocking free passage is a misdemeanor. Dominion Virginia Power also responded today saying the company respects the right to protest peacefully, but also say the employees have the right to access their workplace safely.
The group is protesting the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would cross Virginia as it takes natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina.