2 arrested after protesters set off smoking devices in Richmond

Richmond protest

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Two people were arrested after demonstrators set off smoking devices during a protest in Richmond on Saturday night.

There was yelling in the streets of Carytown around 8 p.m. Saturday, as what eyewitnesses say appeared to be a group of anti-fascist protesters blocked off parts of the busy district to make their voices heard.

“Police were posted up on just about every block," said Ilias Hatzimanolis, who witnessed the protest, during one of his weekly Saturday strolls.

“From two blocks away, you had no idea what was going on. [Protesters] were definitely trying to canvass people and trying to get these flyers out to just about everybody. Most of the details of the flyer are about the involvement of our current president and the abandoning of the Kurdish people.”

Still of one of the flyers given out to passerby's during Saturday night's protest in Carytown. "Defend Rojava" headlines the top of the sheet.
Still of one of the flyers given out to passerby's during Saturday night's protest in Carytown. "Defend Rojava" headlines the top of the sheet. (Source: NBC12/WWBT)

Police say it was a planned protest, so there were already additional officers in place, who didn’t have to step in until after some demonstrators set off smoking devices.

The manager of Can Can Brasserie said that some protesters knocked over water glasses of some customers sitting outside, as they made their way up the street.

“Over at Citizen Burger Bar there was quite a crowd just watching, staring and gawking about what was going on," said Hatzimanolis.

The trek up to West Cary by the protesters snarled traffic, as another eyewitness who provided videos, said that multiple rideshare drivers chose not to come by the area, adding that the demonstration lasted a little under an hour.

“It didn’t seem violent in intent, but it did seem to want to cause unrest,” said Hatzimanolis.

Police said there were a group of about 50 protesters; two people were arrested, one for wearing a mask during the protest, and one was for assaulting an officer - who is OK.

Officials said they were not sure of the motive behind the protest.

Police are investigating.

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