PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — About a month before 14 people were charged in connection with a destructive protest at a Confederate monument, the Portsmouth police chief said she had launched an internal investigation into an impassioned letter written by one of her sergeants.
That sergeant, Kevin McGee, was also the investigator who eventually took out arrest warrants against the people in connection with that protest on June 10 — including prominent Portsmouth politician state Sen. L. Louise Lucas.
The monument on High Street was vandalized with spray paint and some of the four Confederate soldier statues were beheaded during the protest. A man named Chris Green was seriously injured when protesters pulled down a statue on top of him. Police didn’t intervene in the demonstration until Green was injured.
10 On Your Side spoke with Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene after the protest and she said an elected official told officers to let demonstrators vandalize the monument. Greene didn’t name the elected official in that interview, but they were later revealed to be Lucas. The senator denied the allegation that she told police to ignore the property damage; however, body camera video obtained by 10 On Your Side investigators showed Lucas telling officers that protesters were going to paint the statue.
McGee wrote a letter to Portsmouth City Council and City Manager Dr. Lydia Pettis Patton on June 11 after Lucas called for Greene’s firing. He wrote that he was a front-line supervisor during the demonstration and witnessed Lucas giving protesters “the green light” to vandalize the monument. He also placed the blame for the destruction of the monument and Green’s injuries on “several elected and appointed officials.”
Among those charged in connection with the protest are Portsmouth School Board member LaKeesha S. “Klu” Atkinson, members of the NAACP and members of the public defender’s office.
“If Sen. Lucas wants to place blame on anyone for this incident, she should start by looking in the mirror,” McGee wrote.
McGee also said that protesters told him that Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales wouldn’t prosecute them. However, Morales told Greene that McGee’s statements about her and her office’s stance on prosecution were incorrect in a series of texts they exchanged on July 15.
“No one can speak for my office but us,” Morales texted to Greene. “His comments are incorrect and unprofessional at best and I would never allow the members of my department to speak about you in that way.”
In the same text thread, Greene told Morales that she’d launched an internal investigation into McGee’s letter.
“I’ve sent the letter to our professional standards unit to start an investigation,” Greene said.
10 On Your Side emailed the PPD twice to confirm that an internal investigation was launched. Our investigators also asked when the investigation ended and what the conclusion was. PPD has not returned our requests for comment.
A month after writing the letter, McGee was named as the investigator who took out felony warrants on 14 protesters in connection to the destruction of the monument, including Lucas.
Portsmouth Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke — Sen. Lucas’ daughter — has also been charged with misdemeanors after she publicly called for the firing of the police chief, an act that allegedly violates the city code.
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