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Marchers reach Lee statue after scrapping Short Pump plan

Posted at 1:12 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 18:34:26-04

SHORT PUMP, Va. -- A march in protest of police brutality planned for Wednesday hit a snag in Short Pump, so demonstrators opted to move to Willow Lawn before marching to the statue to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Richmond's Monument Avenue.

Video showed a group of people outside Dick’s and Kroger before they connected with another group in front of the Staples store at Willow Lawn around 1 p.m.

Some of the dozens of people who took part said they were marching for change, for an end to police brutality and for freedom that no one has to leave their house in fear.

"We got to keep doing whatever we’re doing and keep applying the pressure. Do not back down," one person said. "Whenever they’re out here doing stuff that we’re not trying to do. Keep applying the pressure and keep pushing. Because we need this for our kids. We needs this."

After setting off from Willow Lawn, the group marched on the sidewalk down Broad Street. The crowd could be heard chanting, “I can’t breathe,” at Commonwealth and Broad around 1:30 p.m.

From Broad Street, the group turned onto Arthur Ashe Boulevard. As they passed First Baptist Church, they were greeted with water and applause.

As the march passed the monument to Stonewall Jackson, the group chanted "take them down," in reference to the former capital of the Confederacy's controversial monuments.

The 3.2 mile march, which lasted roughly one hour and 15 minutes, finished the Lee statue, where another protest was already underway.

"I’m out here for a younger generation. Martin Luther King Jr. got to this point to me just so I can speak," a speaker told the crowd. "Now I’m going to get to this point for him so his children and grandchildren can live."

Shortly after the marchers arrived, news broke that charges were upgraded against the Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck and the three other officers would be charged as well.

That promoted the crowd to erupt in cheers.

At one point protesters took a knee and turned police gathered to the north.

"Protest at the Lee Monument now on the move," reporter Cameron Thompson said around 2:55 p.m.

The 804 Police Brutality March was slated to start at Short Pump Town Center at noon and then head down Broad Street to downtown Richmond.

There was no sign of a crowd as of 12:10 p.m., according to Thompson, but there were people with signs walking in in small groups outside Short Pump Town Center.

"All entrances to the mall are either blocked off or manned by security asking each car where they are going," Thompson said. "One group is waiting across the street, says they were already kicked off the mall property."

A flyer circulating on social media said organizers hoped to march from the mall down Broad Street peacefully into the City of Richmond.

Assuming the group was headed to the downtown area, where much of the protests have been, that is a roughly 14-mile walk which Apple Maps estimated would take at least 5 hours and 15 minutes.

Additionally, temperatures are forecast to be in the the mid-90s, but increasing humidity will make it feel even hotter.

GRTC suspended some bus service along Broad Street in anticipation of the protest march believed to stretch from Short Pump to downtown Richmond.

Neither Henrico Police, nor Richmond Police have released information about the march. Posts about it have been made to social media.

“A planned pedestrian protest will walk east on Broad St. from Short Pump Town Center in Henrico County to the City of Richmond. The protest is scheduled to begin at Noon, but GRTC expects pedestrian activity may begin earlier. For the safety of these pedestrians, GRTC staff and passengers, GRTC will suspend bus travel in the protest area,” a GRTC spokesperson shared.

The bus service suspension impacted Route 19 on West Broad St. between Willow Lawn and West Broad Marketplace.

"As the protest moves into the City of Richmond, there may be more service delays and detours around any pedestrian protestor activity, including on the GRTC Pulse," GRTC officials said.