RICHMOND, Va., — Mayor Levar Stoney condemned the vandalism after numerous buildings were damaged in downtown Richmond on Tuesday night.
“Last night was not about a cause. That was about violence. That was about paralysis. People want to paralyze the city of Richmond. Unacceptable,” Stoney said before his Wednesday COVID-19 press conference at City Hall.
Police declared an Unlawful Assembly around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday after rioting activity by a group of 50-100 people was reported in downtown Richmond, according to Crime Insider sources.
"Individuals broke windows and damaged and defaced property in several neighborhoods in the city of Richmond," a Richmond Police spokesperson wrote in a Wednesday morning email. "At approximately 11:50 p.m., officers detained several individuals. The Department consulted with the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney on possible charges and charged four."
Julius Dela Cruz, Lakshmi Menon, Kyra Nguyen, and Brian Quach were charged with rioting. A metal crowbar and a hammer were taken from those who were arrested, according to police.
In a flyer posted to Facebook Tuesday, people were asked to gather at the corner of Broad and Crane at 9 p.m. to stand in solidarity with Chicago and ‘every city that fights back.'
The flyer also stated, ‘The existence of police is brutality.'
“It undermines any sort of mission behind Black Lives Matter,” Stoney said. “The Richmond Police Department will investigate, will make more arrests, and you will go to jail.”
Stoney defended his officers when asked about another night of destruction in the city that left more than 20 windows smashed at the John Marshall Courthouse. Damaged downtown buildings also included the John Marshall Courthouse, Suntrust, Wells Fargo, and Dominion Energy.
“The police department can’t be on every single corner in the City of Richmond,” Stoney stated.
Richmond Police Deputy Chief Sydney Collier addressed the concerns.
“The police department is out there and we have strategic plans in what we do. We try to respond as quickly as we can to the destruction and the violence that’s happening in the city,” Collier said. “The ones out there now are hell bent on damage. They want to destroy. They don’t want this city to progress.”
The John Marshall Courthouse was closed to the public on Wednesday as crews worked to replace windows.
Richmonders react to the vandalism
Wednesday morning, Rasul Elder and his daughter Cambridge saw the damage to the Wells Fargo building first hand while taking a morning walk.
Elder said they live nearby, and he believes he heard some of the unrest Tuesday night.
“I came outside and security was all up in arms. We were like, ‘what’s going on?’ And we heard like loud banging,” said Elder. “This is my neighborhood, I come here, I walk with my daughter and my dog — you know, breakfast. This is where I live… We don’t need that in our neighborhoods.”
Elder added that he’s against police brutality and anything that’s holding people back, but he doesn’t agree with resorting to vandalism to get that message across.
Blocks away on 8th and Main St., Cherice Smith arrived to the Dominion Energy building for work, and saw the damage there for the first time.
“Really just realizing as soon as we pulled up. This was the first time I realized our building was vandalized — I hadn’t heard anything about it,” said Smith. “A lot of graffiti, the broken glass…”
Smith said seeing that kind of damage, made her sad.
“I think if we want change, vandalizing is not going to get us that change,” said Smith. “It takes away the whole message of black lives matter and police brutality — it takes away from all that.”