RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Tuesday afternoon a small group of city leaders, community activists and the Richmond Police Department made their stand at Libby Hill Park in Richmond, to denounce the violent protests that erupted over the weekend causing over $100,000 in damages to property.
“Protesting and marching, that is what got us here thus far and we still have a ways to go, but the burning, the destruction of property, the white supremacists that have entered into our city - we cannot tolerate that as a city,” said J.J. Minor. “We the people must stand up to this foolishness.”
Minor is the president of the Richmond chapter of the NAACP but chose to represent himself only as a concerned citizen during the press conference because he says this an issue that affects all residents.
“I’m calling on the seven hills of Richmond to stand up with us and denounce this evil that’s going on in our city,” said Minor. “We’ve seen some people use the N-word and even some of the black media being intimidated and we don’t like it.”
The group says the chaos in the streets was driven not by pretenders and not protestors and the fallout could stifle the progress that is being made in the city
“Yes we are angry, yes we are mad and we will continue to be mad, we will continue to make noise, but don’t blame us for the tricksters, don’t blame us for the trouble makers,” said a local pastor.
The former president of the Richmond City Council Michelle Mosby also spoke during the news conference. She says that while past 60 days of demonstrations led to the removal of Confederate statues - the progress that’s happening now like the recently passed Marcus Peters Alert and a citizen review board must be achieved off the streets.
“There comes a time when protesting is necessary, but there comes a time to pivot that into policy and law change and the time is now,” said Mosby. “It is time for us to come from tearing down our city to going into the rooms together, black, white and whatever race you are and us dealing with these injustices together.”
“We’re at war! You want to win the war? Let me tell you how you win a war - it’s not won out here on the battlefield, it’s at the table,” said Charles Willis with United Communities Against Crime. “Come sit at the table and let us reason together.”
Richmond police deputy John O’Kleasky addressed the crowd that gathered to listen during the event, that RPD was willing to adapt to the needs of the city in order to better serve the community.
“We’re willing to be better, we’re willing to listen, we would love to sit down with some of the people who have engaged in protest activity and just listen and see how we all can improve our relationships, build trust, build legitimacy and move Richmond forward,” said O’Kleasky.
But community activist Queen Richardson wasn’t above criticizing and made calls to defund the department because she says her group had to stop agitators from causing more damage Sunday during the protests when police didn’t respond soon enough.
“That’s why to say those funds need to go somewhere else because if they can’t do their job and we have to police our own community, we will continue to do that,” said Richardson.
She's also calling on people who aren't apart of the city to stay home.
“Don’t come in here and attack the people that have been in this city putting in work and attack us because you don’t want to team up with us because you want to do your own thing. It doesn’t work like that,” said Richardson.
“This is my city, this is your city, this our city and we must stand up to this,” said Minor. “We can’t just keep reacting to it we must be proactive in our approach.”
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