Two charged with assaulting police removing ‘illegal items’ from Monument Avenue circle

Police clear area around Lee Circle

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Two people are charged with assaulting Richmond police officers while they were attempting to clear “illegal items” from the area around the Circle on Monument Avenue.

According to police, officers were attempting to get people to comply with state and city ordinances around 8 a.m. Thursday when the alleged assaults happened.

In response to concerns, a task force was formed to deal with the issues. And police say that previously, individuals were given the opportunity to correct the illegal actions.

Police say that for more than 60 days, the area in and around the circle has been occupied by demonstrators, some in violation of ordinances. They have set up tents, taken electrical power, engaged in commerce without permits, displayed videos and played loud music.

According to Mayor Levar Stoney, this wasn’t the first time officers had responded to concerns, adding that people living nearby “have seen with their own two eyes, whether it’s use of electricity, encampments, things of that nature.”

But the crackdown turned violent when police say officers were assaulted by demonstrators while removing tents. They add that pepper spray and tasers had to be used.

Demonstrator Rashia Blackwell says she was taken down after police started removing her stuff, immediately after asking her to do it herself.

“I ended up walking to one of the sergeants and I asked her “Hey, I’m doing what you asked me to do. Why are you throwing my stuff on the back of the truck? Next thing you know, I was just tackled like a football player and I was on the ground,” Blackwell said.

Police arrested Justin Killough and Kadia Taylor; each has been charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, which is a felony.

One of the arrests was caught on camera by a witness who gave NBC12 permission to use the video but wishes to remain anonymous. In the video, the person recording says the officer yelled, “I’ve been waiting for this day” as he chased down the suspect. However, the video does not show that portion of the interaction and cannot be verified.

Warning: The video contains language some may find offensive:

Arrest of man charged with assaulting Richmond officer caught on camera

Later in the morning, only a few people were still left by the circle, reeling by what had unfolded.

“The police are supposed to be protecting people and shielding the people, but they are just breaking the peace,” said Altuo Dong.

Cory Webb, another demonstrator who witness the confrontation between Blackwell and officers added, “There’s other ways to get through this. They don’t want these people here, find somewhere for them to be safe.”

The officers injured in the alleged assaults suffered minor injuries.

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