News to Know for June 17: Another statue torn down; Barriers up at Lee; RPD Chief resigns; Juneteenth to be state holiday

News to Know for June 17: Another statue torn down; Barriers up at Lee; RPD Chief resigns; Juneteenth to be state holiday
The Virginia Department of General Services is installing temporary concrete barriers around the monument “to protect the safety of everyone speaking out to make their voices heard, as well as the structure itself.” (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Another Confederate statue in Virginia’s capital city has been torn down, but first, a look at the weather.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Another chilly day for mid-June with the rain chances staying high through the end of the week.

Rain & clouds stick around through the work week

First Alert: Hot weather returns again just in time for the official start of summer on Saturday.

Another Monument Pulled Down

The fourth statue in ten days has been pulled down by protesters in Richmond. This time it was the Howitzer Confederate statue, which was dedicated in December 1892, near VCU’s Monroe Park campus.

Dozens of protesters marched in the rain before pulling it down. By midnight, the crowd had cleared.

What About the Lee Statue?

The Virginia Department of General Services continues to work on a plan for the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue. For now, the agency is installing temporary concrete barriers around the monument “to protect the safety of everyone speaking out to make their voices heard, as well as the structure itself.”

BREAKING: barriers are being put around the Robert E. Lee Statue. Olivia Ugino is there with what we know so far.

Posted by NBC12 on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

It remains unclear when the Governor’s order to remove the statue will be fulfilled.

Protests Continue

A few hours after the latest statue came down, about a dozen protesters were seen outside of Richmond Police headquarters overnight.

Yesterday, crews put up concrete tubes in front of the headquarters on Jefferson and Grace street, after several nights of clashes between protesters and police.

Overnight, the protests there were peaceful, with one person telling us they just want to have a conversation with police.

Police Chief Resigns

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced that the city’s chief of police has resigned. Mayor Stoney said he requested Richmond Police Chief Will Smith’s resignation, and he turned it in.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announces police chief's resignation

“He has served this city with grace but we are ready to move it in a new direction”, Mayor Stoney says about Chief Smith stepping down.

Major William “Jody” Blackwell will be the Interim Chief of the Richmond Police Department.

Just the First Step

That’s what protesters are saying in response to the resignation.

“The police chief being fired is just the first step in a symbolism that our leadership is not working," said Chelsea Higgs Wise. She says they do not plan to stop the protests in response to the resignation.

Mayor Stoney says an investigation is underway to determine if officers were wrong in recent events. He says if so, there will be accountability.

Council members echoed protesters’ comments, saying the resignation is just the first step in rebuilding the trust between police and the community.

Trump on Police Reform

The president signed an executive order on police reform, which included new restrictions on use of force like chokeholds. It also launches a program to partner social workers with police on calls involving homelessness or mental health issues and creates a national database to track officers with a record of excessive-force complaints.

Juneteenth to be State Holiday

Back here in the commonwealth, Governor Ralph Northam wants to make Juneteenth - which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. - an official state holiday. He was joined by Virginia Beach-native Pharrell Williams in making that announcement.

Governor Northam announces legislation for Juneteenth to be paid state holiday

If approved by the general assembly, Virginia would become the second state to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday. This would not happen this friday, but in commemoration of this Juneteenth, executive branch state workers have the day off.

Talking to Kids About Race

If you’re struggling with how to talk to your child about what’s happening in this country, Chesterfield County Public Schools may have a way to help. It’s hosting a panel conversation on Facebook Live called “Courageous conversations: how to talk about race."

NBC12′s Anthony Antoine will serve as the moderator. It starts at 5 p.m. today. Submit your questions in advance here.

Road to Recovery

Virginia will not enter phase three of reopening this week. Governor Northam says he wants more time to view coronavirus cases.

Right now, more than 55,000 have tested positive and 1,570 have died. Northam says case numbers continue to trend downward, and the percent of positive tests has dropped to 7.4%.

Additional details on phase three will be released tomorrow.

Back-to-School Survey

Students will head back to school this fall, but their experience will be much different. Schools have been given a 130-page guide to help navigate through the reopening process. It’s called “Recover, Redesign, Restart.”

One change schools will need to consider is having students alternate between being at school and learning at home. Richmond Public Schools is now asking parents how the new school year should look - take the survey here.

Big Festivals Canceled

Two of Richmond’s most popular events have been canceled due to the pandemic - the Second Street Festival and the Richmond Folk Festival.

Both are typically held in October, but Venture Richmond says it decided to cancel instead of making radical changes to comply with social distancing. It hopes to bring both festivals back in 2021.

Final Thought

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou

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