PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A magistrate has declined an attempt by local NAACP leaders to file charges against two Portsmouth City Council members.
Local NAACP leaders attempted to bring charges against City Council members Bill Moody and Elizabeth Psimas, saying the two violated the city charter when they called for the police chief to file charges in connection with a destructive protest June 10 at the Portsmouth Confederate monument.
The protest left a man seriously injured and the 54-foot-tall monument painted and broken.
Moody, however, maintains that he didn’t direct Police Chief Angela Greene — who is now on administrative leave — to do anything.
The city charter says a council member cannot give a direct order to a department head. NAACP president James Boyd and vice president Louis Gibbs felt that’s what Moody did in an email surrounding the arrests of demonstrators.
But Moody told 10 On Your Side he was requesting Greene enforce the law, but did not tell her to do anything. Psimas agreed with the request. Virginia Beach Chief Magistrate Michael Poulson, brought into the case to avoid any conflict of interest because it involved Portsmouth city officials, declined to file the charges.
Before entering the magistrate’s office Friday, local Portsmouth Boyd said “breaking the law is breaking the law,” and there can’t be a “double standard.”
Afterward, Boyd told WAVY on Friday afternoon that the magistrate “refused to file the obvious charges against Moody and Psimas.”
The attempt to take out charges against Psimas and Moody is the latest event in a controversy surrounding the Confederate monument and the June 10 protest.
So far, 19 people have been charged in direct connection with the protest. Greene is now on administrative leave from her position as police chief. Portsmouth City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton also announced her resignation Tuesday. City Council voted to fire City Attorney Solomon Ashby. The vice mayor has also been charged after she called for Greene’s resignation.
Greene ordered an investigation into the monument protest, which resulted in 14 people being charged with felonies Aug. 17, including state Sen. L. Louise Lucas, Portsmouth School Board member LaKeesha S. “Klu” Atkinson, members of the NAACP and members of the public defender’s office.
Some of those charged are facing two felonies: conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000.
Greene claimed Portsmouth Police were left to investigate the incident after requests for a Virginia State Police investigation or special grand jury yielded no results.
After charges against the initial 14 people were announced Aug. 17, Portsmouth Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke — the senator’s daughter — called for Greene’s resignation or firing.
Greene did not resign or get fired, but Lucas-Burke was served with a summons alleging the vice mayor violated a section in the city code when she called for the firing. The complaint was filed by a city resident who said he wanted city leaders to be held accountable.
On Sept. 4, Greene was, however, placed on administrative leave.
Sen. Lucas has also filed a motion to dismiss two felony charges against her stemming from the protest.
Stay with WAVY.com for updates in this developing story.
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