Sister of man shot by police enters Virginia governor’s race

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The sister of a Black man who was killed by Richmond police in 2018 has formally announced her candidacy for next year’s Virginia gubernatorial race.

Princess Blanding, the sister of Marcus-David Peters, said Tuesday that she is running under the banner of the newly formed Liberation Party.

Peters, a 24-year-old high school biology teacher, was fatally shot by a Richmond police officer while experiencing a mental health crisis.

Just before the confrontation, Peters had struck several cars with his vehicle, then ran onto Interstate 95, naked and unarmed, during rush-hour traffic. The officer, who also was Black, pointed a stun gun at Peters, who then ran toward him, shouting and threatening to kill him. The officer deployed the stun gun, which appeared to have no effect, and then shot Peters with his service weapon.

Since her brother’s death, Blanding has become an activist on police reform and social justice issues. She lobbied for a law to dispatch mental health providers alongside police to help people in crisis situations. During a ceremonial signing of the law earlier this month, she blasted state lawmakers and Gov. Ralph Northam for what she called a “watered down, ineffective” law.

Blanding, 38, said the mission of the Liberation Party and her platform is “to build a diverse, inclusive, and liberated Virginia for all.” She said issues she will focus on during her campaign include criminal justice, racial justice, education, housing and healthcare.