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Richmond mayor: Curfew to be imposed after violent protests

May 31, 2020 GMT
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A monument to Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va., is covered with graffiti on Sunday, May 31, 2020, after overnight protests over the death of George Floyd. Many of the city’s most prominent Confederate monuments were tagged with similar graffiti. Protests were held in U.S. cities over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/ Sarah Rankin)
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A monument to Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va., is covered with graffiti on Sunday, May 31, 2020, after overnight protests over the death of George Floyd. Many of the city’s most prominent Confederate monuments were tagged with similar graffiti. Protests were held in U.S. cities over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/ Sarah Rankin)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s capital city will be under a curfew beginning Sunday evening after two nights of protests that led to violence, injuries and property damage.

Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency across Virginia on Sunday. The emergency declaration includes a curfew for the city of Richmond that will be in effect from 8 p.m. through 6 a.m. for the next three nights.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney requested the curfew. He said he understands the community is in pain while mourning the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck. Protests raged across Virginia and the nation Saturday night over Floyd’s death and other instances of mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of police.

But Stoney condemned the “violence and destruction” that left some Richmond protesters injured and many businesses along the protest route damaged. Workers were cleaning up broken glass and other debris Sunday morning.

“That will not be allowed any further in the city of Richmond,” Stoney said.

Several of the city’s most prominent Confederate monuments were covered in graffiti Sunday morning, including a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis that had “cops ran us over,” spray-painted on the base. A noose had been flung over Davis’ shoulder.

At the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which news outlets reported was vandalized and set ablaze overnight, a few men with long guns were among a small crowd gathered outside. One man said they were there to protect the building.

Northam’s emergency declaration activates the Virginia National Guard and provides $350,000 to support the state and local responses to the protests.

The governor said he affirmed the deep concerns from the black community but also said “others are exploiting this pain and are now causing violence.”

Richmond Police Chief William Smith said at the news conference that people were injured overnight due to “protester on protester violence,” including a man who he said was shot by a protester.

Smith also said protesters set fire to an occupied building and then blocked the fire department’s access to the structure.

Smith, who seemed overcome with emotion as he described the incident, said there had been a child inside the building. Officers were able to help the people out safely, he said.

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Other protests went on Saturday night across Virginia, including in Portsmouth, Roanoke and Manassas, where Virginia State Police said a trooper was struck in the head with a brick but sustained only a minor injury.

A second trooper struck in the leg with a rock also sustained a minor injury, VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in a statement.

Geller said state police, who responded to assist Prince William County police, used pepper spray and other agents to disperse what she called a violent crowd.

State Del. Lee Carter, whose district includes Manassas, said on Twitter that he was gassed by authorities at the protest and had a “flash-bang” grenade thrown at him.

On Sunday. the Republican Party of Virginia called on Carter, a Democrat and socialist, to resign after they say a video showed him threatening to cut the budget of Virginia State Police in a confrontation with officers during the protests.

Carter responded to the call for his resignation with a one-word tweet: “No.”