Defend Richmond protesters’ rights

Defend Richmond protesters’ rights

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On May 29th, in solidarity with the world, protestors in Richmond, Va took to the streets demanding justice for George Floyd and victims of police terrorism. As a Black youth living in the former capital of the Confederacy, I understand what the implications of racial injustice are in our city. I understand the need for justice here.

Two days later, local officials in Richmond, VA called for a curfew on the advice of the then Chief of Police, Will Smith. Over the next three days, hundreds of protestors were arrested, and in a number of cases, excessive force was used. Peaceful protesters and bystanders alike were thrown to the ground and had guns pulled on them. We’ve been attacked by tear gas, shot with rubber bullets, but, like John Lewis, we believe that sometimes “good trouble” is what our nation needs in order to grow.

Now, nearly two months later, evidence has shown that the vast majority of protestors simply want peaceful change and to truly feel safe in our community. Many charges against protesters who were arrested after curfew have been unprovable. Chief Smith has been fired, the unjust curfew has been lifted, and the mayor has stated that all curfew-related charges will be dismissed. But the mayor's promise that charges will be dropped hasn't yet been fulfilled.

Hundreds of cases are advancing to trial, and protestors face thousands of dollars in fines for exercising the most basic of their constitutional rights. I'm watching as our youth are being criminalized for standing up to ask our representatives to bring justice to our city.

Before all of this, I was someone that didn’t understand the power of protest. I didn’t see myself as an activist. At some point, the power of the people’s voice and even my own became apparent to me and I felt the need to stand in any manner I could. I'm asking you to stand with us, wherever you are.

We need you to help us demand that Commonwealth Attorney, Colette McEachin drop all current charges toward Richmond City Protestors. We are calling for the Mayor and Governor to open a special investigation on the RPD for the questionable actions that took place in the early days of the Black Lives Matter protest.

It is the people's right to assemble and stand up against oppressive systems and racial injustice, especially when it is perpetuated by the same institution that we pay to protect and serve us. We need your support to help us pressure lawmakers to stop criminalizing youth who are standing up in defense of our community.