PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — About 250 people gathered outside Portsmouth City Hall Friday evening for a rally in support of Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), the target of a petition to remove her from office following the damage last week to the city’s Confederate monument.
The program included several civic and religious leaders as Lucas stood next to the podium throughout the peaceful rally. But when Del. Don Scott (D-Portsmouth) opened the event up for questions from the press, Lucas deferred all questions to Scott.
“Why won’t you speak with us directly?” WAVY Reporter Chris Horne asked Lucas, president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate.
“Because she was advised not to,” Scott interjected.
Following the vandalism that included defacing the monument with graffiti, toppling a statue and smashing the heads off other statues, attorney Tim Anderson of Virginia Beach began a petition to remove Lucas from office.
He says when Lucas told protesters they wouldn’t be arrested, it was a message to police to stand down. Two leaders from the Portsmouth NAACP were arrested briefly that day. But Scott — once again speaking for Lucas — says she was long gone from the area when protesters ruined the monument.
“Later on that evening, there were some unfortunate incidents and somebody got hurt,” Scott said. “(Lucas) had nothing to do with it. So stop trying to connect those dots. The truth is inconvenient.”
Several religious leaders rallied for Lucas. They say that the recent deaths of black Americans at the hands of police will not be in vain, not this time, which was the theme for the rally.
“We will not go down without a fight, not this time,” said Melvin Marriner, senior pastor of Grove Church.
Scott invoked the death of George Floyd when speaking of Lucas, whom he called “the most powerful African American woman in the history of the state of Virginia.”
“You will not put your knee on the neck of Senator Lucas,” Scott said.
Speaking on behalf of the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Steering Committee, Dr. Milton Blount said damaged or not, symbols of the Confederate past must go.
“Remove it, and remove it now,” Blunt said of the memorial that is now a multi-colored eyesore in the public square at Court and High Streets, caged in a 9-foot fence to prevent further destruction.
Blount is also calling for a citizens’ review board that would review police behavior, especially in cases of the use of force, to achieve what he calls meaningful police reform.