RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After more than 20 consecutive nights of rage-fueled protests at the Lee Monument to address racial inequality and police brutality across the city and nation at large, Thursday night’s demonstration at the defaced Confederate monument had a different vibe.
In place of chanting, you could hear groups of people cheering as played basketball with a portable driveway goal while others threw around a football. Others directed their attention from the Lee monument to tagging the concrete barriers surrounding the monument.
Though some messages were negatives the largest messages were spraypainted by professional graffiti artists with at least one quoting deceased hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur.
“You see right here it says some things will never change, but I crossed out never because I want things to change,” A protestor named Silhou said. “That’s what I’m basically doing I’m going to speak my truth and I’m going to keep on writing.”
Others protested with classical music. Beth Almore has been playing the cello for more than 40 years. All evening she dedicated her time to performing a piece of music at each of the memorial markers surrounding the black lives lost to the violence surrounding the Lee Monument.
“My project is I’m going to play some music in front of each memorial that we see here. The name of this piece is ‘When I Am Laid in Earth,’... the words are very tragic but very appropriate,” Almore said. “The words are basically when I am laid in the earth may my wrongs create no trouble.”
Almore describes her demonstration as ‘musical smudging,' which she says she was inspired by Native American cleansing rituals.
“Smudging is something that Native Americans do with sage and herbs and it kinds of lenses a space of evil and bad vibes,” Almore said. “The piece just ends with remember me; that’s just the person saying remember me, but forget my fate and that just makes me want to burst into tears.”
Other people like Anthony Fisher with The Movement RVA showed their support by preparing meals for demonstrators at the Lee monument.
“Cooking brings happiness to the people so I kind of took that inspiration and give it back to a great world,” Fisher said. “The world right now is changing. If you don’t believe it then you just have to get out here and feel the love and feel what’s going on so we’re setting a precedent for the rest of the world because we’re showing you all that we’re together.”
Fisher says the lighter mood amongst demonstrators Thursday is a welcome change of pace to the frustration of the previous 18 days of riots. He believes the different styles of protesting is beneficial for the longevity of the cause.
“You gotta fight your fight any way you fight your fight whether it’s media, whether it’s passing the word along or cooking it’s just applying a good vibe,” Fisher said. “This is new to everybody so we have to take it day by day.”
But some protestors like Silhou weren’t on board with how everyone was protesting saying that the atmosphere might send a message to people against demonstrators that the protests are not focused.
“It’s nice to see, but I feel like it’s a cookout I just want more protesting and seeing people angry,” Silhou said.
Despite this sentiment, many people welcome the idea of change in their communities more so than they have in years past.
“The rage doesn’t last forever so no matter what the negative aspect that’s going on with the protests we still have to come together and give out more positivity and keep it going,” Fisher said.
“It’s really multifaceted and I appreciate it because it really feels like people are reclaiming the space and taking it from a place that was very traumatic for African Americans and kind of reabsorb it back into the community,” Almore said.
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