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Monument Avenue resident: ‘It couldn’t have turned out better’

Posted at 9:29 PM, Sep 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-17 22:13:55-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Yellow tape and green gates still circled the statue to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee  along Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue as VCU student Ann Sheehy walked home from a study break Sunday afternoon.

Sheehy said her mother urged her to avoid the unpermitted rallies near the Lee monument Saturday, but like many Richmonders, she followed what happened from home.

“Knowing there were more anti-protesters than protesters to keep the monuments, it's a good thing... that there is such a big crowd of those people in Richmond,” she said.

Though there were moments of tension and spirited debate, Richmond police only made seven arrests. And of those arrested, only two of those people live in or near Richmond.

Jackie Jackson and Joe Yates live on Monument near the Lee statue.

Yates said he gives the local police and state officials a round of applause for how things played out.

"Everyone was a little on edge because no one really knew what was going to happen after Charlottesville, and it couldn't have turned out better as far as I'm concerned,” Yates said.

Jackie Jackson and Joe Yates

Jackie Jackson and Joe Yates

Although police said they continue to patrol near the monuments, operations have returned to normal.

For Jackie Jackson, what she saw play out in front of her home felt productive for conversations moving forward.

"Yesterday gave me, truthfully, more hope that there actually will be productive conversations and that something will come of compromise,” Jackson said.

Richmond Police Chief:  'It was an A+ effort'

Richmond police on Sunday thanked members of local, state and federal law enforcement as well as city agencies who assisted in the response to the demonstrations along the city's iconic Monument Avenue Saturday.

Officials also thanked the Richmond residents and folks who showed up to demonstrate, which police said never exceeded more than a few hundred participants during the day.

“I think many people heeded our advice and stayed home,” said RPD Chief Alfred Durham. “And those who did show up were provided with safe spaces to express their opinions thanks to the skill and professionalism of the officers who were on-post. I can’t thank them enough. It was an A+ effort.”

Officials said there were only seven arrests and that no accidents or injuries reported with the demonstrations.

As a result,  barricades were removed, parking restrictions were lifted and streets were reopened hours earlier than expected.

“Our greatest fear was the fear of the unknown,” Durham said. “We had to plan for a lot of possible scenarios which, fortunately, didn’t materialize. I am especially pleased with the help our government partners offered at every step of the planning process and then showed up this weekend in force. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.”

Officials said that while all was quiet overnight and on Sunday, additional patrols will continue.

“We are not letting our guard down,” Durham said. “We will continue to monitor those groups who are attempting to bring violence to our city. We will remain vigilant. It’s all about presence and action.”

Statement from Mayor Levar Stoney:

"I want to commend Chief Durham and the Richmond Police Department, and all supporting city, county, state and federal agencies for their professionalism and support in implementing a comprehensive plan to keep people safe this weekend.

I want to thank our residents for their patience, understanding and cooperation. And I want to acknowledge the peaceful participation of those who came out yesterday to express their views.

Richmond values its diversity, tolerance and inclusivity. The people of our city showed this weekend that we can rise above hate and violence. And while we may have difficult days and conversations ahead of us, I am confident we can come together as a community to build a better city for all."