RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – On Monday, the commonwealth was recovering from a weekend of peaceful rallies–some turned riots–following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota.
Protests erupted in Richmond, Charlottesville, Hampton Roads and Lynchburg. Demonstrations are expected to continue in the coming days.
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine met with Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney to discuss how to help cities recover. Rather than focus on the destruction that occurred, Kaine emphasized the need to address the trauma people of color are experiencing amid the coronavirus pandemic and police brutality protests.
“It’s a very painful time and I think we all feel that for our city, our commonwealth and our country,” Kaine said. “There is a lot of trauma right now and the burden has to be on the shoulders of us who are doing these jobs to craft solutions.”
Gov. Ralph Northam’s office declined an interview request on Monday. The governor has limited his commentary thus far to statements, the latest of which came Sunday when he put Virginia’s National Guard on standby and approved a curfew in the Capitol City.
Two gubernatorial candidates hoping to succeed Gov. Northam did weigh in on Monday.
Sen. Amanda Chase, a Republican from Chesterfield County, said the state’s National Guard should’ve been mobilized sooner to prevent bad actors from vandalizing property and looting stores.
Chase also raised concerns about Antifa, a far-left group some suspect are behind the violence. Richmond Police confirmed Monday that they have arrested several members of Antifa, in addition to other “violent protesters” from out of state.
“This is an all-out attack on our law-abiding citizens and their ability to peacefully assemble,” Chase said. “These other groups are distracting from the true issue and that is justice for George Floyd.”
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, a Democrat from Prince William, said she’s focused on solutions that could prevent police brutality from happening in the future. Specifically, she’s calling for a special prosecution team who could provide prompt, independent investigations into excessive force cases. She also wants to create a commission to make police practices more consistent statewide.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and tough conversations but I want you to know I see you, I hear you and I understand your anger and frustration,” Carroll Foy said.