Richmond Police Protest Warning

June 19, 2020 - 6:50 pm
Police cars with sirens lit during the uprising through the streets of the city

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Richmond, VA _  New interim Richmond Police Chief Jody Blackwell late Friday issued a reminder to protesters on when a protest becomes an 'unlawful assembly' and how they should respond:

Reminder:  The Richmond Police Department has the authority to declare protests that become violent, dangerous, or disruptive as unlawful assemblies.  It is one of the tools the apartment has under Virginia Code ~ VA 18.2 - 406 to deal with unruly crowds.  It gives the officers to authority to make arrests for failing to disperse.

While several unlawful assembly declarations have been announced in recent weeks, officers have refrained from making arrests.  But the danger of personal injury and on-going willful and wanton property damage cannot be tolerated.

"I have instructed my officers to to make every effort to to support each citizen's First Amendment right to express their opinion," said Interim RPD Chief William "Jody" Blackwell.  "We share their vision of a better, more inclusive future for Richmond.  But, some protesters actions put everyone at risk and we must address that."

Here is what to expect:  When the decision is made to declare an unlawful assembly, repeated announcements are made by bullhorn to alert everyone it is time to leave.

This is what will be announced:  "This has been deemed an unlawful assembly.  Please disperse.  Failure to disperse will result in arrest and/or exposure to chemical agents.

The announcement will also be tweeted out using this graphic:

Richmond Police unlawful assembly warning
Richmond Police Department

If you hear the unlawful assembly announcement or see the Tweet, please leave the area immediately.