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Richmond Police apologize to peaceful protestors for tear gas; explain what happened

Posted at 8:52 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 22:27:26-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Thousands of peaceful protesters marched from downtown Richmond to Monument Avenue on Monday night. It was the fourth straight night of protests speaking out against George Floyd's death and displays of police brutality towards African Americans across the country.

Monday's march began in downtown Richmond and culminated on Monument Avenue, home to several Confederate statues.

Images shared on social media from the monument honoring Confederate general JEB Stuart showed protesters attempting to pull down statue.

Richmond Police tweeted a warning.

"To our protestors: You are placing you and others in grave jeopardy by attempting to pull down statues on Monument Ave. They are extremely heavy and would crush anyone standing too close. Please be aware of the danger. Stand down!"

Down the street, protestors gathered at the monument honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee. At about 7 :30 p.m., tear gas was fired from an area where Richmond Police were stationed, toward the protestors. Many of the protestors scrambled for cover.

"The police escorted the peaceful protest from the Capitol all the way down to the monument. Once the other units arrived shortly after the crowd was teargassed without warning," protestor Anthony Garcia explained.

"To our peaceful protestors: We are sorry we had to deploy gas near the Lee Monument," Richmond Police tweeted. "Some RPD officers in that area were cut off by violent protestors. The gas was necessary to get them to safety."

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney responded on Twitter.

"To the peaceful protesters who were gassed tonight, please come. I want to apologize in person," he tweeted.

State Seantor Jennifer McClellan (D - Richmond) demanded more answers.

"Tear gassing peaceful protestors without warning is unacceptable," she wrote. "We need more answers on why this happened. Witness accounts and video on the scene suggest this was unprovoked."

This is a developing story.