Richmond Mayor Apologizes To Protesters After Police Gassed Them Ahead Of Curfew

OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has reached out to peaceful protesters and apologized for the actions taken by law enforcement officials just ahead of a curfew ordered by Governor Ralph Northam.

On Monday, the first day of the curfew, a local police force used tear-gas to disperse a group peacefully protesting just ahead of the 8:00 p.m. curfew.

Mayor Stoney said the actions were overly aggressive, especially since the protesters were not breaking the law.

“Words cannot make this right, and words cannot restore the trust broken this evening,” he tweeted. “Only action. Only action will repair this community. Come to City Hall tomorrow at noon. I want to say sorry. I want to listen.”

“To the peaceful protesters who were gassed tonight, please come. I want to apologize in person,” the mayor added.

The police department ultimately apologized for their own actions.

“To our peaceful protestors: We are sorry we had to deploy gas near the Lee Monument. Some RPD officers in that area were cut off by violent protestors. The gas was necessary to get them to safety,” the organization tweeted.

The police department followed-up in another statement calling the decision “unwarranted” and said the officers involved “have been pulled from the field.”

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“Chief Smith just reviewed this video and apologizes for this unwarranted action. These RPD officers have been pulled from the field. They will be disciplined because their actions were outside department protocols and directions given,” the police department added.

Here’s how some other people responded to the Virginia protests, via WAVY10:

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.

Virginia state senator Jennifer McClellan tweeted: