RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A group of about 300 people converged around the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond Saturday to protest in support of and against the possible removal of Confederate statues in the city.
It seems, for now, that police preparations and pleas for the public to avoid the area paid off in that only one person was detained by police and no injuries were reported as of 1:30 p.m.
Photos and videos from early in the morning show barricades, and well-armed police lining the area surrounding the prominent statue.
A large crowd gathered shortly before 9 a.m. at the recently unveiled Maggie Walker Monument located on Broad Street in what was called a Unity Rally. Speakers from the group urged participants to forgo the sort of violence seen in Charlottesville when confronting Confederate monument supporters.
Early in the rally, Adria Scharf, the director of the Richmond Peace Education Center described why the group had gathered.
“The idea of southern heritage, it is a heritage and a history that has been built on the disenfranchisement, violence, and oppression of African American people,” Scharf said. “The extreme and unconscionable racial disparities that we see in the Richmond region — from poverty to school quality to community safety to life expectancy– those continuing racial inequities are directly rooted in that history.”
From there, the large gathering marched down Broad Street toward the monuments, before reconvening at the JEB Stuart Monument at the corner of Lombardy Avenue and Monument Avenue.
Once the formal protest ended, many participants moved from there towards the Robert E. Lee monument just a block away, where a group of about a dozen Confederate monument supporters had convened.
Marchers were stopped before being allowed into the barricade around the monument to prevent participants from carrying sticks, flag poles, and other possible weapons into the designated area.
After about an hour of interactions between the groups, the group of Confederate monument supporters were escorted out of the area by police.
Seven people were arrested in connection with Saturday’s monument protests in Richmond:
- Deante L. Watkins, 18, of the 1000 block of Althea Parkway in Richmond, VA, is charged with two counts each of possession of a stolen weapon and possession of a concealed weapon.
- Brittany D. Bush, 29, of the 00 block of Jefferson Street in Petersburg, VA, is charged with disorderly conduct.
- Jabari A. Robinson, 21, 4000 block of Old Mountain Road in Roanoke, VA, is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
- Caroline Hill, 24, the 6900 of McLean Park Manor Court, McLean, VA, is charged with wearing a mask in public.
- Thomas W. Rockett, 21, 2000 Highcourt Lane in Herndon, VA, is charged with wearing a mask in public.
- Corissa C. Duffey, 25, 100 Springdale Road, Stockbridge, GA, is charged with wearing a mask in public.
- Ian M. Gerson, 32, 00 block of Hart Street in Brooklyn, NY, is charged with wearing a mask in public.