Richmond Police Break Up a Crowd to Save Confederate Statue

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Police in Virginia's capital declared an unlawful assembly and broke up a gathering of protesters accused of attempting to pull down another Confederate monument along a prominent avenue on Sunday night.

Richmond police declared the gathering near the statue of Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart unlawful and ordered demonstrators to leave the area along Monument Avenue at around 9:30 p.m., news outlets reported.

Protesters had climbed atop the statue and tied ropes around it before authorities intervened, Virginia State Police said in a statement. The agency said it responded to dispel the protesters after some began throwing bottles at officers.

Photos obtained by news outlets showed a line of police in riot gear blocking the monument. Some demonstrators and news outlets reported that officers deployed chemical agents on them, including pepper spray and tear gas.

Multiple Confederate monuments in Richmond have been rallying points and sites of confrontations with police during demonstrations in the weeks since George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody.

Statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham as well as of Christopher Columbus were toppled. A massive statue to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee remains on its pedestal along Monument Avenue for now, as lawsuits seek to block its removal.

Sunday night's encounter came less than a week after mayor Levar Stoney accepted the resignation of the city's police chief, saying Richmond needed “a new approach” to public safety after repeated violent clashes between police and protesters.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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