PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — State Senator Louise Lucas and several other Black community leaders were arraigned in court Friday morning on charges in connection to the June demonstration at Portsmouth’s Confederate monument.
The protest called for the removal of the decades-old monument honoring Confederate soldiers, which was erected at the site of a former slave whipping post. The demonstration ended when a portion of the monument was pulled down, striking a protester and severely injuring him.
Originally, Portsmouth police charged 14 people including Lucas, public defenders, NAACP leaders, and a Portsmouth school board member in connection to the vandalism. Officers later announced an additional five people were charged — but only the original 14 were in court.
Members of the group learned Friday a judge hasn’t been selected for the case, but they’ll return on Sept. 17 to find out details about future proceedings, Lucas’ attorney Don Scott said.
Defendant Lakeesha Klu Atkinson, better know as a member of the School Board, attended the brief hearings. Afterward, she would not comment on the felony charges she faces but offered a comment on how the case has affected her.
“My lawyer told me to just trust in the process and rely on him,” said Atkinson who is seeking re-election. “I’m still working to get re-elected — that’s never going to stop. I’m still here for the community and the citizens of Portsmouth,” said the school board member.
The lawyers for the collective group dubbed the “Portsmouth 19,” also held a press conference, which featured Lucas, Scott, and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who called the charges a “significant injustice.”
Watch the press conference below
Back on June 10, Lucas was seen on police body camera video telling officers that protesters were going to cover the monument with paint and that police couldn’t stop them.
McAuliffe said Lucas was getting into “good trouble” when she was at the monument on the day of the protest.
More charges could be coming while Virginia State Police continue their investigation.
The arraignments came the same day news broke of Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene being placed on administrative leave with pay for 30 days pending the outcome of an internal investigation. It wasn’t exactly clear that the probe was related to the monument investigation.
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