Richmond—Today, student and youth organizers from the Virginia Student Power Network filed a lawsuit suing the City of Richmond, the Richmond Police Department, and the Virginia State Police for violating their constitutional right to free speech, assembly, and protest. The lawsuit requests an immediate order to stop these violations. This lawsuit comes is a direct result of the ongoing, brutal attacks the Richmond Police Department and Virginia State Police have perpetuated against community members standing up to white supremacy and police violence.
“At Progress Virginia, we’re thrilled to stand in support of the students and youth organizers at the Virginia Student Power Network who are bravely standing up to the out of control police officers who have been violently attacking our community on an almost nightly basis for nearly a month. These hard working young people are doing the work to dismantle white supremacy and end police violence in our community, and we are in awe of their incredible leadership,” Anna Scholl, Executive Director of Progress Virginia said.
“The Richmond Police Department and Virginia State Police are out of control and have essentially declared war on the people of Richmond. They are inciting riots against peaceful community members reclaiming public space by using chemical weapons, rubber bullets, and other excessively violent tactics against the very people they are supposed to ‘protect and serve’ on an almost nightly basis. This is not how police are supposed to operate and it is wholly unacceptable. We hope the Virginia Student Power Network will be successful in getting their injunction, and we will stand with them as they work to dismantle white supremacy and put an end to police brutality in our community.”
- Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney fired Police Chief William Smith after police officers drove a vehicle into a crowd of protesters.
- Under the interim Police Chief William Blackwell, police have continued to terrorize community members with tear gas, rubber bullets, and other uses of excessive force.
- Blackwell was shot and killed Jeramy Gilliam in 2002 and faced charges of involuntary manslaughter. He was not indicted.
- Two Richmond city council members, Stephanie Lynch and Mike Jones, are calling for a ban on police use of tear gas and pepper spray as the police have used chemical agents repeatedly on peaceful protesters and the council members themselves.