When several dozen protesters assembled in front of Richmond City Councilwoman Kimberly Gray’s house around 10:30 Wednesday night, she feared for her safety. She called the Richmond Police Department, as did some of her neighbors. Gray says the police never responded. The RPD says it did.
“I didn’t see any uniformed officers, my neighbors didn’t see any uniformed officers, my professional security force did not see any uniformed officers, no blue lights, no marked police cars arrived,” Gray told WRIC News.
As it happens, Gray is a candidate for mayor, running against incumbent Levar Stoney and several lesser-known candidates. As a city councilwoman, she has been one of Stoney’s most vocal critics. An African-American, she voted for removal of the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue but has disapproved of law-breaking by protesters.
The RPD told the television station that police had monitored the protest, which began around 7 p.m. on the edge of downtown and moved into the Jackson Ward neighborhood in the evening. “As the protesters traveled throughout Jackson Ward,” the police acknowledged, “the group grew in number and the volume of their protesting increased.”
Around 10:35 the RPD emergency communications received calls from Gray and other Jackson War residents concerning the protest. According to WTVR, some in the crowd threatened to burn down her house. Some were carrying assault rifles.
“Officers were dispatched and established telephone contact with the councilwoman,” said the police statement. “They advised her throughout the protest in front of her home.”
The police lieutenant in command advised Gray to go inside her home. According to Gray, “They said, These aren’t people coming to dialogue. They already have bats and shields in hand and we think they’re coming to cause you harm.'”
The lieutenant told Gray there was a police plane circling above. “Gray said, “If someone opens fire on my home, there’s nothing that airplane can do to protect me or my family.”
The protesters dispersed after 15 to 20 minutes, depending on whose account is believed.
According to Gray, RPD Police Chief Gerald Smith later told her, “Their strategy is to not engage because they said they (the protesters) are looking for opportunities to provoke the police and have altercations. I don’t agree with that philosophy. I think that when people come aggressively, in an intimidating and threatening way, to anyone’s home, that the police should respond appropriately.”
Gray expressed disappointment that no citations were given out Wednesday night. Under Virginia law, it is a misdemeanor to picket or assemble in a manner that disrupts a peoples’ right to tranquility in their homes. Eleven people were arrested last month when militants demonstrated in front of Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin’s home.There are currently no comments highlighted.