Protesters in Richmond set fire to the United Daughters of the Confederacy headquarters and covered Confederate memorials with graffiti during the second night of outrage and violence Saturday that saw one person shot, businesses around the city looted and storefronts torched.
Mayor Levar Stoney condemned the destruction, which has played out in cities across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Stoney announced Sunday morning that Gov. Ralph Northam had granted his request for a curfew and said the National Guard was on standby to help enforce it.
Police said one person in a vehicle was shot by a protester and the victim is in life-threatening condition. In a separate incident, police said protesters set fire to a home occupied by a child and blocked the fire department from responding.
“We can not sit here idly and tell everyone here that these actions are productive — because they’re not,” Stoney said. “When you block law enforcement from allowing fire services to get to a home, an occupied home that has caught fire, you are not inspiring change.”
The protests Saturday began peacefully but quickly grew violent when a crowd of at least 500 people marched to Capitol Square, where they ripped down a make-shift barricade and hurled bottles and traffic cones at a line of officers blocking the entrance with riot shields.
The crowd left the area as a mass of state police officers approached, heading west to the city’s police headquarters, where the night before protesters had set a police cruiser on fire and broken out windows.
Officers had fortified the area Saturday and responded almost immediately with teargas, flashbang grenades and non-lethal rounds.
By midnight, protesters had dispersed throughout the city, lighting fires in trash bins, breaking windows and looting stores, including a state liquor store, a video game shop, and a CVS. At least two businesses burned, including a shoe store and a Rite Aid pharmacy that workers had been attempting to board up as the protest began.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.