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Mayor Stoney on violent protests in Richmond: "We will lock you up."

Updated: Aug. 14, 2017 at 8:34 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Protesters calling for the Confederate monuments to come down took to Richmond streets on Sunday night, some reportedly carrying firearms. One journalist was hit in the head, requiring stitches. One arrest was reported so far. Currently, police are preparing for more potential pop-up protests, as the fallout from Charlottesville continues.

About 200 marches walked from Abner Clay Park to the Lee Monument on Sunday night. The rally started as a vigil for slain Charlottesville protester Heather Heyer. Sources say at least 10 protesters had assault rifles.

Police Chief Alfred Durham said the city will not tolerate the kind of violence that erupted in Charlottesville.

"We want to let them know, you violate the law, destroy property or cause harm, physical harm to anybody, we're going to arrest them. We're not going to tolerate that here," said Durham.

Mayor Levar Stoney also gave a strong warning to any protesters considering getting physical, as the controversy over Richmond's Confederate monuments continues to boil, nationwide and in RVA.

"We're not going to tolerate the damaging of property or the injuring of our people. So, when I hear a reporter was hit in the head with a pole last night, I will not tolerate that. We will lock you up," said Stoney.

Former Virginia Capitol Police Chief Mike Jones told NBC12 that carrying weapons during a protest is legal.

"That definitely shows intimidation, but that's legal," said Jones, who now operates Major Security Consulting and Design, a security firm.

Jones says the police has the authority to separate groups of protesters, and shut a rally down completely, if things turn violent or streets get blocked.

"The minute violence or any criminal act takes place, that's when it can be declared an unlawful assembly, and arrests made," continued Jones.

Police won't ever get specific on their preparation or logistical plans for events, for obvious reasons. Richmond has considerable experience handling these kinds of protests, with the Capitol located here. In recent years, officers have dealt with a slew of protests including the Black Lives Matter movement and protests during the 2016 presidential election. Arrests have been made, but very few injuries have been reported, during those events in Richmond.

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