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Police 'assessing damage' after Richmond protest turns violent

Officer suffered minor injury, police say
Posted at 3:50 PM, May 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-30 16:55:44-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Authorities are asking for the public's help to identify those responsible for "setting fires, damaging property, or assaulting individuals" after hundreds marched and rioted in Richmond to protest George Floyd's death and displays of police brutality towards African Americans across the country.

"Last night’s protests began as a peaceful gathering that became violent later in the night," a Richmond Police spokesperson said Saturday.

Officials said one officer suffered a minor injury. No other injuries were reported and no arrests were made, according to police.

"Richmond police are currently assessing damage and contacting property owners," police said.

Officials urged anyone who has information about the people responsible for the damage to call Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.

Rioters torch Richmond bus

The peaceful protest that started in Monroe Park on Friday night ended with a GRTC bus being lit on fire.

Demonstrators in Richmond gathered by the hundreds and marched from Monroe Park on VCU's campus down W. Franklin St. and Broad St. to City Hall downtown, holding signs and chanting "No Justice No Peace" and "Black Lives Matter."

On May 25, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was seen on camera kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a handcuffed African American man who had been arrested and handcuffed. Floyd died in police custody after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes while Floyd repeatedly said "I can't breathe."

On Friday, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

In Richmond, the group eventually culminated outside of the Richmond Police Headquarters on W. Grace St. where the protest began to escalate towards displays of violence.

Around 11 p.m. Friday night, a dumpster and a police cruiser had been set on fire and windows had been broken at the Police Headquarters. Additional windows were also shattered at a nearby Wells Fargo Bank at the intersection of 2nd St. and E. Grace St.

Police moved crowds away from the burning car and stood lining the street outside of the police station in SWAT gear and shields while protesters were seen throwing throwing rocks and fireworks.

The Virginia State Police, Chesterfield, and Henrico Police were called to serve as back up during the protest, according to Crime Insider sources. A police helicopter was also seen circling the area outside of the headquarters.

Meanwhile, hundreds took the protest online to a Zoom meeting where members discussed finding solutions to prevent police brutality.

“I think we should expect police to be accountable, that there will be ramifications for misconduct and I think in order to do that we have to believe that change is possible," organizer Jasmine Leeward said.

GRTC Bus Fire

Shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday morning, a GRTC bus was lit on fire near the intersection of W. Broad and Belvidere St. on VCU's Monroe Park Campus.

Police used tear gas to move crowds of protesters away from the flaming bus, which was fully engulfed by 1:15 a.m.

VCU Police issued an alert, warning of disorderly crowds and urging people to avoid the area.

GRTC officials said services will be suspended starting Saturday at 8 p.m. through the remainder of the weekend.

"Only essential CARE trips, such as for customers on dialysis, will be completed during this timeframe," a GRTC spokesperson said. "No CARE vehicles will enter any protest area."

GRTC plans to resume service Monday morning, but warned of possible delays or changes if conditions warrant.

Transit company officials said service could also end early Monday evening.

This is a developing story and will be updated as details become available