Reports: Chemicals used on crowd during Richmond protest
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Richmond police say one protester was arrested after an overnight demonstration outside police headquarters turned violent and three officers were injured.
The confrontation began Sunday night and extended into the early hours Monday as hundreds of protesters gathered outside police headquarters to protest an earlier incident in which a police car struck several protesters blocking its path. No one appeared to be injured in that incident.
In a statement Monday, police said some demonstrators threw rocks and other objects at police officers. Several city vehicles, including dump trucks, were heavily damaged, several privately owned buildings in the area were vandalized and numerous dumpster fires were set, police said.
“Last night’s actions far exceeded what is considered to be lawful First Amendment activity,” Chief William Smith said. “Organizers were intent on provocation and creating mayhem by throwing rocks and other objects at the officers on duty, who showed great restraint in response to these attacks.”
Police did not provide a description of the officers’ injuries.
Police said they used pepper spray on protesters after they declared an unlawful assembly and protesters ignored several warnings to disperse.
Police said one protester, Michaela Hatton, 22, of Richmond, was charged with felony assault on a law enforcement officer and conspiracy to incite a riot. Authorities said she is accused of striking an officer in the head with a bullhorn when the officer attempted to stop her from crossing a police line.
Multiple news outlets reported that Hatton was arraigned Monday morning and later released. Hatton could not immediately be reached for comment.
Video released by WWBT-TV showed a small group of protesters standing in front of a line of officers in riot gear outside the downtown police building after 4 a.m. Some protesters could be heard shouting at the officers.
Police later appeared to launch multiple canisters toward the group, before some demonstrators picked them up and threw them back.
The encounters took place less than a day after Mayor Levar Stoney asked a state prosecutor to investigate an incident in which a police SUV appeared to strike multiple protesters as they blocked the vehicle’s path near the Robert E. Lee statue on Saturday.
The overnight confrontation also comes two weeks after Stoney and Richmond Police drew criticism over the use of tear gas against nonviolent protestors gathered in front of the Lee monument during a demonstration June 1.
Stoney and the department both apologized for the actions in that instance and promised the officers involved would be disciplined.
Protests against police brutality have rocked the U.S. since the death on May 25 of George Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air while a Minneapolis police officer pinned him down with a knee to Floyd’s neck.