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Demonstrators condemn 'excessive force' at Richmond jail protest outside, police defend actions

Posted at 11:36 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 07:10:58-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Dozens of demonstrators returned to the Richmond City Justice Center on Wednesday afternoon following the arrest of 11 protestors at the jail Tuesday night.

"We have been out here protesting police brutality since late May, only to be met with increased brutality from the officers, they swear are here to protect us," Naomi Issac of the Virginia Student Power Network said.

On Tuesday, Issac was among the crowd of protestors gathered outside the justice center, calling for better conditions inside the jail for inmates, after deputies reported a spike in COVID-19 cases.

"We're advocating for the release of all those incarcerated not just because of COVID, but because we know that cages do not rehabilitate anyone," an organizer at Tuesday's protest said.

The protest started at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday night. CBS 6 had crews rolling as protestors made their way from the sidewalk onto the grass of the Justice Center, where they were met with several sheriff's deputies.

The deputies ordered them off the grass and back onto the sidewalk, before Richmond Police arrived as back up around 6:30 p.m.

RPD officials said Wednesday at a press conference, they found parking violations when they arrived and called for tow trucks to move several cars in the road. Around 6:50 p.m. Video showed one protestor on a bike blocking a tow truck from getting through, before police said he fled from an officer.

Moments later he can be seen being tackled by an officer.

"He's trying to avoid capture. At some point the officer has to stop him and engage him in order to arrest him," Deputy Chief Sydney Collier said.

"He was met with violence, he was met with dozens of police officers and received no care between the time he hit and subsequently swarmed," one protestor said.

Moments later, protestors tried to make their way closer and police intervened, detaining, and arresting multiple people.

At a press conference on Wednesday police defended their response.

"What part of it you would call excessive?" Collier said. "No complaints have been filed at this point."

Protestors had a different take.

"We were beaten, detained. Some of us were kidnapped and caged in a jailhouse," Issac said.

"If the sheriff's office told them that they can't be on the property, then they could have come back on the sidewalk and peacefully protest on the sidewalk, but they chose not to," Collier added.

"The sidewalk is city property. The median is city property," one protestor said. "Why are we being arrested for being on city property."

At the press conference, Collier was asked whether the Justice Center was considered city property, in which he responded, he's "not sure."