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Richmond protesters pleased by police chief's ouster, say more needs to be done

Posted at 10:58 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 12:21:54-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A group of protesters sat on the edge of the lawn around the Robert E. Lee Monument lawn Tuesday evening. Many in the group were pleased to hear about Richmond Police Chief William Smith's resignation.

“At City Hall, people asked for resignations. We got resignations so pat yourself on the back," one protester said.

The announcement came after weeks of tension between protesters and police.

While the Richmond Police Department said an overwhelming majority of protesters have been peaceful and lawfully exercising their rights, there have been some who have injured officers and destroyed city vehicles and equipment.

Protesters have voiced concerns about police officers using tear gas and pepper spray when it was not necessary to do so.

“I literally just carried a girl, two nights ago on my back to her car because she got tear gassed," another protester added. "She got tear gassed for telling the protesters to stand back.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney addressed those concerns -- again -- at a Tuesday press conference. He said tear gas should be used as a last resort.

“When I hear last resort, that means that violence of some sort has occurred and I think that’s what happened at some of the protests at Richmond Police Headquarters," Stoney said.

He has asked protesters to hold each other accountable.

“There will be accountability on our end, but we also need accountability from those who choose to peacefully protest as well," Stoney said.

Tuesday night, protesters marched near an apartment they believed belonged to Mayor Stoney.

Back at the Lee Monument, protesters said the chief's resignation was a step in the right direction, but they believe more change was needed.

“We need help. We need help from our leaders the government that you say we should vote. The system that we should vote in," a protester said." We’re getting people registered, but give us some hope when they register and go hope that it's for something and not some photo op.”

“We want to promote peace, we want to promote unity," another protester added. "We want to show all that if we keep on standing together and staying strong, we are going to make a change."