A Virginia police chief delivered an emotional statement when recalling an incident where firefighters were prevented from reaching a burning house by rioters amid the chaos that ensued following the recent George Floyd protests.
In his statement, an emotion Richmond Police Chief, William Smith, recalled:
“One incident that is particularly poignant, that truly illustrates the seriousness of the issues we’re facing. Last night protesters intentionally set fire to an occupied building on [West] Broad Street. This is not the only occupied building that has been set fire to in the last two days. But they prohibited us from getting on the scene. We had to force our way to make a clear path for the fire department. The protesters intercepted the fire apparatus several blocks away with vehicles and blocked that fire department’s access to the structure fire. Inside that home was a child.”
Chief William C. Smith comments on a challenging situation during last night’s protests in #RVA. You can watch the rest of this @CityRichmondVA press conference here: https://t.co/jvzqcaRA3i pic.twitter.com/LCHrIIAeM2
— Richmond Police (@RichmondPolice) May 31, 2020
In spite of the dreadful incident, thankfully, police were able to rescue those trapped inside the burning house.
Speaking about the weekend’s protests, Richmond mayor Levar Stoney said: “Peaceful protests in solidarity against the injustices of black men hijacked by bad actors. As soon as you loot a store or set a public bus on fire, you’re not demonstrating. You’ve made it about you.
“When you block law enforcement from allowing fire services to get to a home that has caught on fire. You are not inspiring change. When you knock out windows of businesses that had nothing to do with this, you are not inspiring change. That’s an insult to the cause.”
According to Police One, Chief Smith went onto address further violence, including a shooting, taking place on Sunday night: “The man shot last night was shot by a protester. We’ve had a number of people that have been injured by thrown bottles, rocks, bricks, everything that you can imagine, thrown by other protesters.
“As the mayor said, our protest has started out peacefully every single night with respectful people voicing their legitimate concerns. We’ve been able to facilitate them in their First Amendment rights, but it hasn’t taken too long each night before actors have taken over the protest and have changed the tone.”