Richmond police chief gets tough on protesters planning to disrupt the peace
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond's police chief is getting tough on any protesters who plan to come to Richmond and disrupt the peace. That's the message from a community forum Thursday night where those who live and work around Monument Avenue drilled the department on what officials will do to keep you safe.
The are some fears but mostly concerns and questions because no one knows just how many will assemble come Saturday.
The community forum was like a Q and A with the chief, and no questions were off limits.
"If you live anywhere near this area, would you leave your car on the street?" a neighbor asked.
"You're asking me personally? Yes. Yes, I would," Police Chief Al Durham answered.
"Secondly, would you come out of your house?" the neighbor continued.
"Yes," Durham replied.
"How you recommend counter protesters from being shot on Saturday?" another neighbor asked.
"The recommendation I would say, and don't take this the wrong way, is don't show up," Durham said meeting applause from the crowd.
It was a candid conversation as Durham was surrounded by his comrades from surrounding agencies. State police, Capitol police, Henrico, Chesterfield, and VCU were all united to say they're doing all they can to keep you safe. It's in response to a Confederate group from Tennessee assembling in Richmond Saturday calling for all Confederate symbols to stay in place.
"There's that one view, and I'll just say it -- pro keeping the monuments because they're history, not hate. That's not being heard in a peaceful way because you have the extremists coming in," a resident chimed in.
Many neighbors are on edge because it's so soon after the deadly White Nationalist rally in Charlottesville last month.
"I know there's a law about wearing masks. What do you intend to do about enforcing that law?" a neighbor asked.
"If someone has a mask on, we're not asking them to take it off, they're being arrested," Durham said.
Durham says the city will have designated assembly zones. Starting Friday morning, roads will be blocked off as fences will go up to control protestors.
"We didn't invite these folks here. We have to respect the Constitution. We want them to come here and protest peacefully," he added.
Another resident wanted to know why people can't wear helmets to protect themselves. The chief said some will use helmets to hurt others. Overall, his tone was tough.
"They don't play by the rules but we're going to introduce them to the rules," Durham added.
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