PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The festive atmosphere last month at the dismantling of the Portsmouth Confederate monument came to an abrupt halt when a protester was severely injured after part of the statue was pulled down and landed on top of him.
Since then, city and state officials have been pointing fingers at each other trying to figure out how things got to that point.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, 10 On Your Side obtained police body camera video from earlier in the afternoon when state Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) first arrived on the scene. She told police protesters were going to paint the statue.
“Ma’am, you can’t tell them to do that,” one police officer said to Lucas.
“I’m telling you to call Dr. [Lydia Pettis] Patton,” Lucas replied, referring to the city manager. “I’m not telling them to do anything. I’m telling you you can’t arrest them. Call Dr. Patton.”
Today, Lucas stands by the conversation she says she had with Patton. Lucas has, however, told us she never urged protesters to vandalize the monument and didn’t condone illegal activity, but she is on camera telling officers they can’t stop what was about to happen.
BELOW: BODY CAMERA: Portsmouth Police chief’s body camera shows interaction with Sen. Louise Lucas June 10
“I’m Senator Louise Lucas,” she said to officers. “I know I’m in disguise, but they are going to put some paint on this thing. You can not arrest them. You need to call Dr. Patton, because they are going to do it. You can’t stop them. This is city property.”
The next day, Patton sent an email saying no member of City Council nor any elected official gave a directive not to arrest for vandalism. Patton is neither of those things, but in her email, she put the decision solely on the police chief. Chief Angela Greene doesn’t typically wear a body camera but did on June 10.
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“You all were not authorized to be on the property,” Greene said to protesters.
“They are now,” Lucas said. “They are now. Dr. Patton just gave permission though me. You need to give her a call. I talked to her 15 minutes ago. You need to give her a call.”
“I’ll give her a call, but I talked to her less than five minutes ago and no one is allowed on the property,” Greene said to Lucas.
“This is city-owned property,” Lucas replied.
BELOW: BODY CAMERA: Sen. Lucas tells officers they can’t arrest protesters at Confederate monument
10 On Your Side called Patton on her cell several times. We are still waiting for her to call back or return our text messages to get her side of the story.
Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe says he never gave any directives not to arrest and he could not speak for Dr. Patton.
Lucas was only at the scene for a short time and says she was unaware how events unfolded that night until they were over.
The longtime state senator is now the focus of a recall petition started by Virginia Beach attorney Tim Anderson. Anderson believes Lucas’ actions caused a riot.
Last week, Lucas filed a $20-million defamation law suit again Anderson.
Portsmouth is also in the process of moving the Confederate monument.
On June 23, Portsmouth City Council approved $250,000 to cover the cost of moving the monument.