The Bravest Woman in Richmond

Kim Gray. Photo credit: Style Weekly.

by James A. Bacon

Kimberly Gray, a Richmond City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate, espouses a philosophy that some people in the era of Black Lives Matter find offensive. “I’ve been verbal about protecting all citizens,” she tells Bacon’s Rebellion. “This is my city. I love my city. I want it to be a place where everybody feels safe in their own homes, from Gilpin Court to Monument Avenue.”

That outlook has put her at odds with the social-justice protests sweeping the city that erupt episodically in looting, arson, vandalism, and confrontations with police. As an African-American, Gray is sympathetic with some of the protest movement’s aims, such as removing the Confederate statues from Monument Avenue. She also supports peoples’ Constitutional right to peaceful protest. But she has a problem with demonstrators toting semi-automatic weapons on her doorstep. And she is one of the few public figures in Richmond to forthrightly criticize the systemic use of low-level violence to intimidate and silence opponents.

Gray’s willingness to stand up to the mob has put her in the cross-hairs of the anarchic left-wing movement that has kept the City of Richmond on edge for more than two months. She was subjected to low-level harassment for weeks even before a crowd of roughly 200 descended upon her house in Jackson Ward last week, banged pots and pans, blew air horns, hurled insults, brandished guns, and shouted threats. That incident generated brief media attention when she complained that the Richmond Department of Police never dispatched officers to her residence.

In the Richmond mayoral race this year, Gray has been thrust into the position of defending law and order.

Several candidates are running for mayor of Richmond, but the political handicappers say it is a three-way race. Alexsis Rogers is running in the progressive lane, advocating more money for schools, environmental justice, and the partial defunding of the police. Mayor Levar Stoney, the incumbent, is threading the needle between social justice radicals and the political and business power structure. That leaves Gray, a vocal critic of Stoney’s Navy Hill downtown development scheme, positioned as the fiscal conservative, supporter of law enforcement, and champion of ordinary law-abiding citizens.

Gray is half white — the illegitimate daughter of a white woman and a black man — and was raised in the 1970s when Virginia was still wrestling with the demons of segregation. Her mother couldn’t keep her brother and her safe in the racist neighborhood where she lived, and, when Gray was two years old, the two children went to live with her father and his wife. Even then, she says, her father was targeted for harassment by the Klan. Although she identifies as an African-American, has African-American children, and supports African-American causes, she says she can represent people from a diversity of backgrounds. “I’m not a divider when it comes to race.”

She infuriated leftist militants in Richmond when she said on the radio that their intimidation tactics reminded her of when the KKK stalked her father. The Twitter Outrage Mob erupted with indignation over what it interpreted as Gray drawing a moral equivalence between them and the Klan. But she stands by her statement that their tactics — rule by intimidation — are similar.

“If you don’t go 100 percent with what they say, they come after you violently,” she says. “They’re suppressing other peoples’ first amendment rights. They are intimidating voters.”

A neighbor’s car vandalized near Gray’s house shortly before the big demonstration.

When George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by a policeman putting a knee on his neck, Gray was as distressed as anyone. But she had no sympathy for those who piggybacked on legitimate protests in Richmond to loot, burn and vandalize. The more she spoke out, the more the Twitter mob targeted her. As emotions flared over Civil War statues and policing practices, the conflict spilled over from cyberspace to the real world. She endured weeks, she says, of people stalking her house, hurling curses, trespassing onto her property and ripping out plants.

Gray shared with Bacon’s Rebellion a document, authored by “a local abolitionist and strategist,” urging activists to target people in power “who give you what you want.” Targets include Commonwealth Attorney Colette McEachin (mentioned by name), the mayor, and members of city council. The document listed several “direct action ideas” for making their lives miserable. (Gray asked Bacon’s Rebellion not to share the document or list the action items for fear of giving people ideas.) However, it is important to note that one of the direct actions urged: “Show up at targets house.”

In mid-June a crowd protested in front of Mayor Stoney’s apartment building; 20 to 30 demonstrators managed to pushed their way into the lobby. Several days later, a smaller group demonstrated in front of the house of Colette McEachin, Richmond Commonwealth Attorney and wife of Congressman Donald McEachin. Eleven people were arrested for picketing, one for obstructing justice, two for assaulting a law enforcement officer, and one for trespassing. The tactic of demonstrating in front of elected officials has become common across the country. A week ago, protesters targeted the homes of Fredericksburg’s major and city manager.

On July 15, a crowd assembled in Festival Park in downtown Richmond in the early evening. A couple of days before, someone had used bricks to knock out the security cameras at her house — an act that suggests premeditation and planning.

Richmond police knew of the gathering and monitored it from a distance. The RPD called Gray and conveyed a warning. Some members of the crowed had bats and sticks and guns. “They told  me to go inside.”

Gray complied. She was worried. News reports from other cities indicated that left-wing militants had a propensity for violence. She had young children in the house and felt extremely vulnerable, even though a member of her security team — former policemen who had volunteered to look out for her — was on the premises. A Richmond police lieutenant did maintain telephone contact with her throughout the incident but, despite the RPD’s later assertions that police were on hand, she never saw a police car.

Marching from Festival Park, the crowd of about 200 protesters reached her house in historic Jackson Ward. They filled the block and cut off traffic. Demonstrators raised a clamor by banging pots and pans and blasting an air horn that sounded like a train. There was shouting and chanting, People yelled, “Come out! You’re a coward!” Her security guard heard someone shout, “Burn it down!” and “Burn the witch!” Some protesters were armed with semi-automatic weapons. Some aimed retina-burning lasers, including one or more on rifle scopes, into the house.

Gray says she has no idea who most of the protesters were, although she did recognize one — Chelsea Higgs-Wise, a high-profile supporter of competing mayoral candidate Alexsis Rogers. Higgs-Wise stood in front of the crowd shouting into a bullhorn.

Police later claimed that the protest lasted about 15 minutes. Gray says it lasted as least a half hour. Her daughter posted a 26-minute video on Facebook Live, and that didn’t capture the entire demonstration.

In Richmond, the neighborhood around the Lee statue, which protesters have claimed for their own, has become a virtual police-free zone. Police refuse to respond to routine incidents such as vandalism, excessive noise at late hours, and even occasional assaults. Police did react last night, however, after hundreds of protesters mobbed the downtown police headquarters, setting fire to a dump truck used to cordon off the area, burned a nearby restaurant, and taunted officers in an apparent attempt to goad them into an over-reaction. The police deployed tear gas and flash bangs to disperse the crowd.

Man bearing gun in Richmond protest Saturday night

Although the number of people bearing guns represent only a small percentage of the protesters, they are a source of concern to Gray. “People are handling their assault weapons with triggers engaged,” she has. “Many have hair triggers. It’s frightening to witness.”

She sparked controversy in 2017 when she advocated banning assault rifles when white supremacists were planning a rally in Richmond. “I’ve been consistent in my concerns about assault rifles in residential neighborhoods. … They can create mass carnage.”

While the police were willing to use force to disperse the mob in front of the RPD headquarters building, protesters are otherwise allowed to roam unchecked around the city. The RPD has adopted a policy of avoiding confrontation with the crowds, which means tolerating lesser crimes. As long as they aren’t assaulting people and burning things, protesters fear no retribution.

At great personal risk, Kim Gray is the only elected official calling them to account.

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42 responses to “The Bravest Woman in Richmond

  1. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Wishing Mrs. Gray all the very best. She is in the eye of the storm. I don’t live in Richmond but I do admire Mrs. Gray’s courage and steadfastness. May God go with you.

  2. Repeat after me…. Theses are all peaceful protests.. that is what TV is telling everyone. And as for the crackdowns this weekend in the RVA the local self-proclaimed protesters are blaming it on the “Trump crackdowns”. The videos I have seen all appear to be arrests by RVA police.
    This is a national issue where on camera politicians are declaring that all the protests are non-violent until the police and feds show up.
    Unfortunately not enough adults from either side are standing up and on-camera calling out those burning, smashing, and assaulting.
    It is particularly disgusting when any, and I mean any, protestor or political operative goes to someone’s home and threatens or intimidates. It is also always, and I mean always, legitimate to peacefully assemble and air grievances.
    Unfortunately our society is seemingly accepting a “by any means necessary” approach to social change.
    I’m waiting to see if that is acceptable when extreme pro-life operatives adopt the same approach in neighborhoods with abortion clinics.

    • I would also request we close the “laser loophole”. Anyone can purchase a retina-destroying laser on Amazon for dollars. There needs to be a one laser per month- with a full background check and a registering system in place in VA. You should also not be permitted to concealed carry said laser without a special permit which requires the signature of your local court. Each laser and associated batteries should also carry a serial number which can be traced.

      • let’s see, that makes them as dangerous as …. b b guns?

        so folks that are carrying their loaded AR-15s are “ok” but
        the lasers not?

        I dunno…

        I would agree to strictly regulate drones with AR-15s…. and lasers…

        also – have you seen this:

        &w=1440

        • The blindness can be permanent. Get it, Larry? Permanent blindness. But the Dude is being facetious.

          • yep – you can do that with B B guns also, right?

            I’m not diminishing it… at all.. just pointing out that we struggle a bit with “weapons” and proportionality and controlling sales.

            If I can legally own dozens of AR-15s , you gonna deny me one of these lasers?

          • My uncle lost an eye to a BB.

        • Read the stories about the protest at Ms. Gray’s house. The protestors were shining lasers into her children’s windows. What do think the intention was?
          I would guess some were doing so with the intent to cause eye injuries. That is a gross act. And FYI the protest- prefered green laser is well known to cause greater eye injuries due to intensity.

          • don’t have to convince me of that but AR-15s also come with laser sights and no problem there, right?

            I think it’s actually illegal to use lasers in that way. Capture the guy doing it on film and rip him a new one in court.

            See, we might have some perversity going on. It goes like this: ” if you’re gonna burn me for roughing up someone, I’ll just stand back and watch from now on”.

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          Yeah Mr. Larry I saw this too. Antifa is well organized, they have strong tactics, and they practice before they perform. If John Brown had acted in this manner back in 1859, Harper’s Ferry might have had some momentum.

          • If John Brown had a cell phone and social media – he might have done better, eh?

            that’s the key here to ANY group – they can easily “organize” with technology available…

            antifas here and in other countries people fighting real oppression…

      • Larry are the Not Fing Around Coalition guys allowed to have ARs? Just curious… I think they should. They are Americans with protected rights under current laws.
        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8559841/amp/Black-militia-members-brandish-guns-demanding-charges-against-cops-linked-Breonna-Taylors-death.html
        And anyone brandishing (the legal term, not just carrying them) a firearm without just cause should instantly be punished with the full force of the law.

        • not sure your point here. I’m pointing out that we’re allowed to have weapons , right? So you don’t like some and do like others?

          • NorrhsideDude

            What I am pointing out is our Governor and GA have been actively closing “loop holes” due to the chance that children will be hurt by weapons. If a group is weaponizing lasers, reportedly against a politican’s children, then we should explore closing that loop hole and regulating laser as weapons, like handguns or scary black rifles.

          • I’m not disagreeing but again pointing out that we do support people owning weapons as a right – and those weapons do have the potential to hurt and kill people – and we do have laws against brandishing them and that would including pointing a weapon with a laser sight at someone.

            I have not followed the GA on this issue – seems like Lasers used as weapons has been a discussion at the Federal and State levels for a while now but I’m not familiar with the specific laws.

            I have no problem with prosecuting anyone who points or threatens with a weapon or any device used as a weapon.

            I bet there is an existing law to that effect, right?

  3. All these street mobs have nothing to do with the last week’a 200 new cases in Richmond, 303 in Chesterfied, 285 in Henrico and who knows how many outside the immediate area.

  4. Count me as another person concerned about this. This IS mob-action and it reminds me of other similar intimidation tactics used by gangs and organized crime.

    Police have become snakebitten over the presence of cameras whenever a physical alteration accompanies an arrest.

    These protestors are treading right up to the edge of free-speech and the right to assemble. The police are going to have to use cameras themselves to show the behavior of those that ought to be arrested.

    These folks, by the way have little to do with the legitimate protestors that remain peaceful – these are truly more like the vandals and anarchists. I agree, it IS a national issue but there really are two distinct groups and that’s part of the problem with the politics of this.

    I have zero issues with the intimidators being dealt with as harshly as can be and you’ll find me with those that advocate it but again, some are helping to create this issue by claiming all protestors are like these scum and the police have gotten snakebitten over it. We had this kind of thing going on during the Vietnam war protests also. Legitimate protestors who behaved and anarchists using them for cover.

  5. This Chicago Police video and analysis does a great job of dissecting how a seemingly peaceful protest was actually cover for violent rioting. The very large Black Lives Matter banner at the front of the march is held together with PVC pipe. As it turns out, the PVC pipe had been sharpened for use as spears to be jabbed at police. The analysis is long (:30) but it’s hard to watch and believe that a few violent anarchists are compromising large peaceful protests. Instead, it appears that the people who planned the “rally” down Columbus Avenue knew full well that this would turn into a violent riot.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1VdhQbfSTY

    I have no idea why the police in places like Richmond and Chicago stay on the job. If I were a policeman in either place I’d argue for a widespread case of “the blue flu” for about two days. Leave the city and its woke progressive residents to fend for themselves once the rioters know that the police are gone.

    • I completely agree that if the politicans are hanging the police out to dry, ala the Stoney video and other naratives, they should either Blue-flu or not leave their cars. I have no problem with cities having their own social experiments. Jsut don’t ask for additional state and federal funds to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
      Detroit-on-the-James here we come!
      (Oh yeah go do some searching on Twitter to see the reaction to VCU’s Rao calling out the destrucion on that campus…. spoiler alert… even he is not woke enough)

  6. The New Narrative this morning is that it’s now “white supremacists” masquerading as BLM or Anti-fa who are stirring the worst violence in RIC. Nothing new about false flag tactics, of course, but I’d like to see more evidence. Perhaps if they actually ARRESTED a hundred people and ID’d them… Absent that I see that claim as a sign the “apologists” are starting to understand they will pay a price.

    I’d happily vote for Gray, but I’ve already moved out of the city. Bye.

    • The self-proclaimed RVA antifa protestors were advertising the marches the last few nights on Twitter with fliers stating that “peace police” (those known for stopping destruction and attempting to keep the protests legitimate) were not welcome. They also stated they were doing so to be in solidarity with the actions in Portland.
      They are easy to find on Twitter…. they don’t bother to hide. They obviously don’t feel the need.

  7. What the police have to do – is fully document the protestors so that they have the “reasonable cause” on film when they arrest them and it holds up in court – and these scum get their just desserts…

    Of course when the police do that – ALL of their arrests will be documented and subject to scrutiny.

    By this time – most folks know the police are anything but perfect. There are bad cops and incompetent cops but there are also a lot of good cops. It’s the nature of the beast and people have to start accepting that and get off this “de-fund” crap.

  8. “Gray is half white — the illegitimate daughter of a white woman and a black man — and was raised in the 1970s when Virginia was still wrestling with the demons of segregation.”

    I graduated from public high school in 1977. Even a cursory look at my high school yearbook will demonstrate a segregated school. Look at the picture of any team or club. Black and white students. No asshats like our governor in blackface. No asshats like our governor at parties with people in klan robes. No asshats putting up statues of the architect of Massive Resistance on the grounds of the Capitol Building. Stunningly, that statue was erected in 1976 with the apparent blessing of the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond. Disgraceful. You’ll remember the man honored by that statue, Harry Byrd, the politician who masterminded the disbanding of the Arlington County School Board rather than let the school system desegregate.

    I fully understand that there were vast swaths of Virginia controlled by the plantation elite struggling with the demons of segregation in the 1970s. There were also large areas of Virginia that were well past that by the time the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond chose to erect a statue to Harry Byrd on the grounds of the building where the General Assembly meets (1976).

    Not every area of Virginia was controlled by racists in the 1970s.

    • “Not every area of Virginia was controlled by racists in the 1970s.”

      Yep, just Colonial Heights… and Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Yorktown, … so, just the white spots.

      • I can assure you that the Rt 1 corridor south of Alexandria where I grew up was no more of a white spot in the 1970s than it is today. A simple scan of any Groveton High School yearbook from the 1970s will conform that. In 1986 Groveton and the much whiter but still integrated Ft Hunt High School were merged to form West Potomac High School. The demographics today?

        In the 2017–18 school year, West Potomac High School’s student body was 38.65% White, 16.31% Black, 34.76% Hispanic or Latino, 6.75% Asian and 3.53% Other.

        The first time I saw or heard consistent racism in Virginia was when I left Northern Virginia in 1977 to attend the University of Virginia and met the demon seed of Virginia’s plantation class. You know who I mean, people like Ralph Northam.

        • I dunno DJ:

          ” Early History of Fairfax County Public Schools

          According to Wikipedia, Fairfax County Public Schools was formally established in 1870, right after the Civil War. It was the same year that Virginia was readmitted to the Union and boasting significant economic growth directly in Fairfax County. The Fairfax County government website lists Thomas Moore as the very first superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools, with his appointment dating September 18, 1870. This was the first free public school system that was available to students in that area. Prior to that time, students who could only attended private institutions.

          Like other school districts in the country, Fairfax County Public Schools was a segregated district from its creation to the middle of the 20th century. The Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education changed segregation laws in this country in 1954, but Fairfax County did not participate in desegregation until 1960. Just two years later, in 1962, the largest high school in the county and the state, W.T. Woodson High School, opened its doors”

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Mr. DJ it’s easy to pick on Harry Byrd for his segregationist policies. Low hanging fruit. But’s lets examine the contribution of Harry Byrd, Carter Glass, Claude Swanson, Bill Tuck, and John Pollard for a moment. These powerful figures of the Byrd Machine steered hundreds of millions of New Deal dollars into the economy of 1930s Virginia. 26 million in direct relief. 65,000 employed in the CCC. Homeowners Loan Corporation and the Federal Housing Administration refinanced thousands of mortgages and saved tens of thousands from foreclosure. Agricultural Adjustment Act stabilized and even uplifted the price of farm goods by controlling supply. The National Recovery Act revitalized Virginia’s industry and raised the price of industrial production by 14%. The Wagner Act brought union activity to Virginia. This plus NRA helped raise industrial wages by 24%. The Public Works Administration brought hospitals, libraries, the State Library of Virginia, Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, Williamsburg Colonial Parkway, electric power plants, and more. Works Progress Administration ushered in a flurry of highways, bridges, schools, college buildings, and employed over 8 years 100,000 Virginians. WPA also recorded the rural oral history and black and white Virginians. WPA put artists, musicians, sculptors, writers, and performers back to work. National Youth Administration employed teens during this era. Rural Electrification Administration brought power for the first time to connect 75% of rural VA to the grid. Secretary of the Navy, Claude Swanson, steered big naval contracts to Newport News and Norfolk. The aircraft carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown were all built at Newport News. 45,000 Virginians worked here. These were the ships that won the Miracle at Midway. The beauty of the Byrd Machine was the ability to dodge the matching funds requirement from the Roosevelt Administration. Virginia was one of the only states granted this.

      Byrd and the lieutenants of the Byrd Machine do deserve condemnation for their segregationists ways. But don’t you forget the enormous amount of good Byrd and his followers did for Virginia. That good trickled all they way down to every household in Virginia. That is a big reason why Byrd has a monument on Capitol Square.

      • The architect of Massive Resistance deserves no statue on Capitol Square and no streets named after him in Northern Virginia. He and his ilk didn’t just let various school systems in counties run by the plantation elite shut down rather than integrate, they actively prevented right-minded school districts in counties run by law abiding Americans from integrating.

        Sorry Mr. Whitehead but Harry Byrd wasn’t some Confederate officer born in 1820. He was a man of the 20th century who epitomized Virginia’s modern racist culture.

        Record his accomplishments along with his failures in the history books but that statue on Capitol Square and those street signs in Northern Virginia need to go.

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          Very few people in Virginia’s history are going to measure up to your standards. Even the one handful I can think of bore some sort of sin.

          • Well what it comes down to is do we memorialize them?

            No problem at all with their place in history – good and bad, flawed person or not.

            but who do we hold up in our public places as heroes to – all of us – not just some of us?

          • No 20th century racists deserve statues on the grounds of the building where the General Assembly meets. What’s the message there?Replace it with a statue of Linwood Holton or Gerald Baliles.

          • James Wyatt Whitehead V

            Bailes is out. Cancelled. Sat on the Altria Board. Won the Harry Byrd award from VMI. Holton is cancelled too. Served in the crooked Nixon Administration. You see what I mean Mr. DJ? History museums will only need the space of closet now.

          • James Wyatt Whitehead V

            Claude Swanson is the greatest son of Pittsylvania County. As a young man from Swansonville, Virginia he had demonstrated great promise but lacked the funds to attend college. Members of his Methodist church raised the money to send young Swanson to Randolph Macon College. This was done during the lean years of the Panic of 1876. Swanson graduated with honors and continued at UVA Law School. Claude Swanson would fulfill the sacrifice made by his church. He was Governor of Virginia, six term Congressman, United States Senator, and Secretary of the Navy. He repaid his fellow neighbors and lived a long and useful life.

  9. Claiming that the protests “give cover” to violence, or that violence is raison d’etre for the protests, rather than that violence covertly takes advantage of the protests is, of course, part of the reason for the protests in the first place — to end violence under color of the law.

    This is political hackery at its finest to the point that the party, whose greatest fear was the overreach of the central government, is currently cheering on jackbooted thugs in nondescript military uniforms using asymmetric violence.

    This would be tantamount to claiming that the Confederacy were merely violent protestors. In fact, taking that claim to its sick, but highly logical conclusion. — given what would have happened to the Southern economy and way of life with Abolition — you could say the Confederates were just 160 years ahead of their time, and that they were really the first BLM protestors. Of course, their motto being, “Black Lives Matter, But Only 60%”.

    • What in God’s name are you talking about now? Watch the video I posted. The huge banners carried by the “protesters” hid weapons used to attack the police. Listen to the black police chief in Chicago. He was asked if the organizers knew some people were planning to attack police. “I hope not but it sure looks like it”.

      • Well, they definitely organized an phalanx, but the pvc pipe being sharpened? I saw plenty of 90 degree elbows on the ends of the pipes and I did see one pipe thrown like a spear, but from the distance videoed, I guess we’ll just have to take the word of the officer.

        What is worrisome, and should be to all, is that protestors are developing tactics and devices to defeat non lethal weapons so, no doubt soon, the police will resort to a massacre.

  10. Jim,
    Thank you for your article. I have heard Kim Gray on several radio shows over the past several months. I now feel that I have a better sense of who she is and of her desire to serve the Richmond community. It would be helpful if more Virginia leaders shared their views and aspirations more openly so that we can make more informed choices at the ballot box. Even though I live in Henrico, I am inclined to support her run for mayor.

    • If Gray were running for “mayor” of Henrico County, I think she’d win in a landslide. But in Richmond… who knows?

      • I believe she’s done. The far leftists want Rodgers and Stoney has the name recognition. Since older people vote the heaviest my money says Stoney stays…. unfortunately for him the mess that is Richmond probably destroys his future political career…. although Tim Kaine came out of a horribly corrupt RVA city council without a tarnish.
        Personally I am going to donate to Rodgers. I want to help give them exactly what they think they want. Maybe the rest of Virginia will take notice.

  11. I’ve said it before, but what happens in a few weeks when the legislators get harassed Kim Gray-style during the special sessions. Will restaurants be protested against for serving those not willing to toe the woke line? Will they all ask for security details? Are they planning on all staying in the same place so it can be protected? This could be a real problem. And if security is needed a very expensive problem.

  12. well… paranoia and conspiracies are always a bit problematical…

    still not sure what the term “woke” really means other than to self-identify as not “left” ..

    😉

    oops… here we go:

  13. I thought that Jim describing Kim Gray as half-white and illegitimate was interesting. Perhaps he was reading from a bio but otherwise his choice of words caught my attention as he does choose his words carefully. While Kim identifies as African-American, referring to her as half-white might make her appear more favorable to white voters. The use of illegitimate is somewhat of a throw-back term. Is it intended to mean that the only children of God that are legit are those blessed by the government?

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