RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Sen. Louise Lucas made her first remarks after being charged with two felonies for an incident that happened at Portsmouth’s Confederate monument on June 10.
“I will be vindicated,” shouted Lucas as she arrived at the Virginia Assembly Tuesday afternoon. Virginia lawmakers are taking up dozens of criminal justice reforms during a special legislative session that started Tuesday.
Lucas, among others, is facing charges of conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000.
Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene, along with other Portsmouth officials, held the briefing Monday afternoon to announce that several warrants that have been secured against individuals more than two months after the incident at the city’s Confederate monument.
On June 10, the Confederate monument was vandalized and broken apart by protesters, which culminated with a protester being seriously injured when part of a statue was pulled down on him.
As a result of the investigation, detectives determined that several individuals performed felonious acts and have taken out warrants against them, including Lucas, as well as Portsmouth School Board member LaKeesha S. “Klu” Atkinson, members of the NAACP and members of the public defender’s office.
Back to work
Lucas is a longtime Democratic legislator and a key power broker in the state Senate. She joined the chamber in 1992.
WAVY News 10 previously reached out to Lucas Monday but did not receive a response. Her attorney Don Scott called the charges a desperate act of politics.
“Consequently they’re doing what they always do which is they weaponize the criminal justice system against black leadership and that’s what they’re doing this time we’re gonna fight it vehemently, we’re gonna fight it vigorously,” Scott told WAVY-TV.
Multiple politicians have spoken out against the charges Lucas faces, including Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and Rep. Bobby Scott.
The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP also responded to the charges against Lucas and the others.
“The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP is deeply troubled by the announcement by Portsmouth City Police Chief Angela Greene of felony warrants against State Senator Louise L. Lucas, public defenders and community leaders. Portsmouth deserves a Police Chief and leadership who are committed to serving, protecting and respecting all members of the community. The VSC of the NAACP will closely monitor these cases as they go forward.– Robert N. Barnette Jr. | Virginia State Conference President
The VSC of the NAACP is advocating for police reform, accountability, and transparency. The actions of the Portsmouth City Police Department further the necessity of meaningful reform. These charges
demonstrate the latest pattern of injustice which shows that African Americans arear t subjected to a totally different justice system.”
Meanwhile, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Rich Anderson encouraged the senator to turn herself in Monday evening.
On Tuesday, Lucas’ attorney Don Scott told Wavy News 10’s Jason Marks that Lucas turned herself in to police and is now out on bond. Lucas returned to work in Richmond shortly after.
On Monday, Lucas’ daughter, Portsmouth Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke, sent an email to City Council members saying she has lost confidence in Greene, the police chief. She is calling for Greene’s termination.
10 On Your Side reached out Greene for her reaction but did not immediately receive a response.
During the press conference Monday, Greene says her officers went to a magistrate because police ran into dead ends with the Portsmouth commonwealth’s attorney.
“When a discussion with the commonwealth’s attorney regarding a special grand jury and special prosecutor didn’t yield any action, it was the duty of the Portsmouth Police Department to begin a thorough and comprehensive investigation into this incident,” Greene told reporters.
On Tuesday, Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales says her office didn’t request a grand jury because Greene never brought over a case file for her to review.
“We still have not received any full investigative results to my office,” Morales said. “We don’t just sit and say ‘I don’t want to go forward and do anything.’ Once we receive a complete investigative file, we make a prosecutorial determination.”
Morales says she had no idea warrants were being taken out.
“I am not easy to surprise, so I won’t say I was surprised, but I was not aware these charges were coming down,” Morales added.
Portsmouth Police are hoping a special prosecutor will come in and handle the cases, but Morales doesn’t see the need.
“My number one goal is to ensure there is fair process for all parties involved,” Morales said.
Morales was listed as a witness by police on the warrants, meaning she could be called to testify. She says she wasn’t on the scene at the monument.
Morales plans to ask a judge to remove her as a witness so her office can handle the charges.
“I feel this is exactly the work that I have been elected to do,” she said. “This is the difficult task of ensuring that justice prevails no matter how upset or no matter what political consequences are. This is the job and I am directly accountable to this community.”
Full list of charges
Here’s the full list of those facing charges of conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000:
- State Sen. L Louise Lucas
- James Boyd, Portsmouth NAACP representative
- Louie Gibbs, Portsmouth NAACP representative
- LaKesha Hicks, Portsmouth NAACP representative
- LaKeesha S. “Klu” Atkinson, Portsmouth School Board member
- Kimberly Wimbish
- Dana Worthington
- Amira Bethea
Here’s the list of individuals facing a felony charge of injury to a monument in excess of $1,000:
- Brenda Spry, public defender
- Alexandra Stephens, public defender
- Meredith Cramer, public defender
- Brandon Woodard
- Hanah Renae Rivera
- Raymond J Brothers
Greene asked that anyone with an active warrant turn themselves in.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Steering Committee also plans to hold a press conference at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in front of the Portsmouth Judicial Complex in response to the arrest warrants.
Stay with WAVY.com for updates.
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