Sen. Lucas, other public officials, charged with felonies for June incident at Portsmouth Confederate monument

Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene announced during a Monday afternoon press conference that State Sen. Louise Lucas has been charged with two felonies for an incident at the city’s Confederate monument on June 10.

She, among others, is facing charges of conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000.

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.

Greene issued a statement, but did not take any questions, as the investigation is ongoing, city officials said.

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 fell on him.

Since then, a team of investigators have been compiling evidence, including video, from that day.

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.

BELOW: Watch the full press conference held by Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.

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 police department is also asking for help identifying 13 additional people. Detectives released photos of the individuals Monday, but the photographer has since claimed his copyright of them.

Police are also asking anyone who recorded video during the incident to please share the footage with the department.

On Monday night, the Tidewater Solidarity Collective, a political “community building project encompassing economic, racial, gender, sexual, and environmental justice,” created a GoFundMe to benefit the 757 Solidarity Bail Fund, set up by nonprofit Humanities Behind Bars.

As of midnight, just eight hours after police announced the charges, the fundraiser had already received $2,191. The page says the money will go to help pay legal costs for those who have been charged in connection with the protests.


WAVY News 10 reached out to Sen. 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.

Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Lucas made her first on-camera comment about the charges, succinctly stating, “I will be vindicated.” She provided no further comment.

10 On Your Side also reached out to Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales to ask about her office not being involved in the process.

Greene said requests were made to state and federal authorities to conduct an independent investigation. She said that a discussion with the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney “did not yield any action.” So the police department went straight to the magistrate.

On Monday, The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia called for the charges against Lucas and several others to be dropped. The ACLU said the charges constitute a stark overreach by police because they were not approved by the local prosecutor’s office.

Lucas is a longtime Democratic legislator and a key power broker in the state Senate, joining the chamber in 1992. The charges were filed the same week Virginia lawmakers are taking up dozens of criminal justice reforms during a special legislative session.

Lucas, the President pro Tempore of the Senate, marked herself as present at the special session on Tuesday.

Lucas has claimed all along that she did nothing wrong.

Lucas showed up on scene in the afternoon June 10, hours before the demonstration at the monument began.

Police did not specify exactly what Lucas allegedly did to warrant the charges, but a 10 On Your Side review of body camera footage from June 10 showed Lucas telling police that protesters were going to paint the statue.

Lucas stood by the conversation she says she had with the city manager.  Lucas told 10 On Your Side she never urged protesters to vandalize the monument — and didn’t condone illegal activity — but did appear on body camera footage telling officers they couldn’t stop what was about to happen.

Days after the incident, a local attorney started a petition to recall Lucas. She, in turn, filed a $20 million defamation lawsuit against the attorney, Tim Anderson.

Several political figures took to social media Monday after the charges against Sen. Lucas were announced.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted a response to the charges, saying they were “highly unusual.”

“It’s deeply troubling that on the verge of Virginia passing long-overdue police reform, the first Black woman to serve as our Senate Pro Tempore is suddenly facing highly unusual charges.

“@SenLouiseLucas, I look forward to seeing you in Richmond tomorrow—so we can get to work.”

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe also tweeted a response.

“Louise Lucas is a trailblazing public servant who isn’t afraid to do and say what she believes is right. Her opposition to a racist monument is the definition of what John Lewis called ‘good trouble.’ I stand with my good friend.”

Sen. Lucas took to Twitter late Monday night, responding to McAuliffe and Northam’s tweets and saying she looked forward to “transformative” legislation that will come out of the special session.

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus also condemned the decision by Portsmouth Police in a statement Monday.

The VLBC said the timing of the charges against Lucas was suspicious, as the special session for the General Assembly was due to start Tuesday and she planned to patron a bill that would strengthen the “ability to independently investigate police departments statewide,” the VLBC wrote.

Meanwhile, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Rich Anderson said the senator should turn herself in.

“Felony charges leveled against a sitting state senator are to be taken seriously, and should not be sought out for political gain,” he said in a statement. “It is for that reason that the Republican Party of Virginia calls for Senator Lucas to turn herself in. Immediately.”

Stay with WAVY on air and online for updates.

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