Richmond Police, ACLU to address concerns of protests

Published: Jul. 28, 2016 at 1:54 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2016 at 11:33 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The ACLU of Virginia is expressing concern about how the Richmond Police Department is policing protests. They drafted a letter that spells out their concerns and includes a list of demands:

  • Officers present at rallies and protests are easily identifiable to the public (by name or badge number). Officers on duty should never be anonymous, and the public should always be able to identify easily who is policing them.
  • Officers policing public events understand that members of the public have a constitutional right to use the public sidewalks and, unless they are clearly obstructing officers in their duties, cannot and should not be asked to keep moving or leave the area.
  • Ensuring that officers policing events (particularly events in which emotions are running high) take affirmative action to protect people involved in a public demonstration from harassment and physical intimidation by those who disagree with their points of view. It is the rights of the speaker to speak (no matter the view being voiced) that the police have an obligation to protect.

The Richmond Police Department also drafted a response.

"I want to begin by making clear that it is my ultimate goal, at all times, to the best of my ability, to ensure the safety of all citizens, visitors, employees and officers of this fine City regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, physical or mental limitation," said Chief Alfred Durham.

As the ACLU expresses concern regarding RPD policing of protesters, including the recent Trump rally that led to some being detained, one of the protesters in attendance is coming out in support of police.

"I think the ACLU needs to study and get their facts together. Get their facts straight. Talk to both sides," said Charles Willis, executive director of United Communities Against Crime. "When it comes to this matter right here ... Richmond Police are doing a superb job."

Chief Durham will meet with leaders from the ACLU of Virginia next Friday to discuss possible solutions.

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