RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After a week of protests shining a light on racial injustices across the nation allies, activists and leaders gathered at Forest Hill Park to demonstrate on Friday in support of the “Marcus Alert” and a Civilian Oversight Board.
The killing of George Floyd under the knee of Minneapolis police officer has sparked renewed interest and action to one of Richmond’s most hotly debated incidents: The killing of Marcus David Peters in 2018.
Just before 6 p.m., hundreds of demonstrators marched down from Forest Hill Park to occupying the corner of Forest Hill Avenue and Westover Boulevard chanting Marcus Peters’ name.
“What is happening in Minneapolis is a product of what has happened to black people for decades. We are paying attention and we are ready to rise together,” Alex Cortes said with Justice RVA.
Despite the clear difference between the death of Peters, who was killed after charging a Richmond Police Officer while experiencing a mental health crisis, the group wants the city to take action on policies they hope will prevent any future incidents.
Demonstrators had a series of demands for the city, including the removal of the monuments, the dropped charges of protesters who were arrested as a result of violating Richmond 8 p.m. curfew Monday, a citizen board of review which would oversee RPD and a community meeting which would involve city leaders like Mayor Levar Stoney and Police Chief Will Smith. But their top priority is the enactment of what is known as the Marcus Alert.
“The time to implement the hashtag Marcus Alert is now,” Cortez said.
If enacted, the Marcus Alert would allow that RPD and the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority to work together during calls where an individual is suspected of having a mental health crisis.
“These organizations have been working tirelessly to seek comprehensive police reform in our city, ever since the violent death of Marcus-David Peters in May 2018 at the hands of a Richmond Police officer. The people of Richmond have been met with nothing but broken promises, and in our grief and rage we demand action now,” organizers said.
On Wednesday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced his commitment to enacting the Marcus Alert, but organizers with the group Southerners on New Ground are demanding more.
“We’re working to implement a crisis intervention team that would be able to respond to community crises whether that’s domestic violence situations or having a mental health crisis and needs someone to come to the scene and respond who’s trained in non-lethal de-escalation tactics,” Rebecca Keel said with the group.
Keel says they want to reallocate money RPD receives and instead have it to go to Richmond Public Schools and other public services.
“We are asking for the reforming and defunding our Richmond police department,” Keel said.
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