PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Residents around Portsmouth organized a “Support Chief Greene” rally Sunday afternoon after the police chief was placed on administrative leave earlier this week.
The “Support Chief Greene” rally happened at 2 p.m. at the Portsmouth City Hall located at 801 Street.
A group of about 200 to 250 people gathered in support of Police Chief Angela Greene. Protesters say they were there in support of her holding people accountable.
The color green often references an envious emotion, but for this group outside City Hall today, it represents the call for justice.
Tim Anderson was one of the organizers Sunday who called for the protest in response to the recent suspension of Greene.
“She didn’t do anything wrong, they suspended her because she charged people that are in power. She comes here and does her job, and the police department loves her. She does her job and now they’re suspending her. It’s unbelievably outrageous, it’s an injustice and it’s a slap in the face to the rule of law,” said Anderson.
“They’re fabricating things against her and it’s wrong. The chief of police is experienced it and if that means it’s Lydia Patton that needs to be fired, so be it. The City Council, which meets here on Tuesday, needs to get started our city manager under control and reinstate the chief of police for doing her job,” added Anderson
But in the sea of chants and calls for change, there were some people who did not agree.
“I think we need to support Chief Greene because she did her job and is now catching political flak about it — but not because she wants to continue systemic racism,” said Neal Griffin.
Neal Griffin said there is a bigger issue at play.
“They’re talking about ‘we are a law and order society’ and shouldn’t destroy that monument, but not a single one of them says anything about 400 years of lynching. I believe that is against the law,” said Griffin.
He said there should be balance.
“I don’t think that is anywhere on the agenda and in our nation needs that racial reconciliation and there’s a lot of deep grievous injury and hurt in our history. Most white Americans don’t want to look at it,” he said.
Although Greene could not make an appearance, her child shared her message.
“She can’t be here so, we brought her on the phone. She is overwhelmed with joy and is thankful for everybody. And if she could, she would tell everybody herself that she loves you all and she’s thankful for you all. Hopefully, she will be back to serve and protect you guys,” said Ajah Wright Greene’s daughter.
Organizers said they plan on being out here at least once a week until they see some changes from leaders at City Hall to reinstate Greene.
On September 4, Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene was placed on administrative leave with pay for 30 days pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
The city confirmed that Chief Greene is on paid leave and that Assistant Chief Scott Burke will serve as interim chief. Burke, a 22-year veteran of the force, has served as assistant chief for the past two years.
The details of the investigation are not clear at this time, but Greene has been under intense scrutiny after the department charged State Senator Louise Lucas and other prominent Black community members in connection to a demonstration at the Portsmouth Confederate monument, in which the historic structure was painted and damaged.
Lucas and 18 others are facing felony charges in the case including conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000. The first 14 charged were arraigned Friday morning.
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