The riots at VCU lasted all throughout the weekend as part of a small wave of civil unrest that caused police departments in several cities to declare riots as unlawful assemblies. The riots have even caused the death of one demonstrator in Austin, Texas. (Related: Armed BLM rioter learns the hard way what happens when you open fire on a civilian vehicle in TEXAS.)
In Virginia, the situation was no different. The Richmond Police Department (RPD) declared the riot, which occurred on the evening of Saturday, July 25, and extended well into the wee hours of the morning Sunday, July 26, to be an unlawful assembly. Rioters crossed and ripped apart police tape, fired fireworks and threw chunks of asphalt at police officers, all while they burned and wrecked their way through the university as well as The Fan district in central Richmond.
“It is heartbreaking to see extensive damage at our Monroe Park Campus following a violent demonstration overnight in Richmond,” wrote university vice-president Michael Rao in a message distributed to the whole campus on Sunday.
The riot was attended by several hundred demonstrators. It began at Monroe Park, an open field right in front of the campus, and ended at the nearby RPD headquarters.
According to Rao, around 80 windows were shattered in no fewer than a dozen campus buildings. Campus furnishings were dragged out onto the street and damaged, while many buildings were spray-painted with graffiti.
Though the university is still assessing the extent of the damages done to the campus, Rao says they expect the cost of repairs to be no less than $100,000.
“VCU supports free speech and stands in solidarity with those peacefully expressing messages of social justice and equity for all people,” said Rao. “VCU does not condone – under any circumstance – acts of violence or vandalism, regardless of the purported cause.”
Rao further stated that the university was looking into pressing criminal charges against any individuals that may be identified to have been involved in the violence and property destruction.
According to the RPD, the riot in the city may have been organized by people who are not residents of Richmond. At a press conference held on Sunday, July 26, RPD Chief Gerald Smith said that a flier advertising the weekend riots came from outside the city. He further said that many of the people who attended the demonstration have been identified as members of different left-wing organizations such as Antifa.
The rioters were told to meet at Monroe Park at around 9:30 p.m. Their fliers, which were heavily laced with profane messages such as “F**k the Feds,” “F**k RPD,” F**k the [Virginia State Police]” and “F**k Trump.”
“It is clear that this group came on Saturday night in order to bring violence and disruption to the city of Richmond,” said Mayor Levar Stoney, who condemned the violence on one hand and praised the city’s BLM chapter on the other. Stoney said that the local BLM leaders did a good job by not encouraging members to participate in the riot.
According to CBS 6, after the riot was declared an unlawful assembly, rioters ignored the RPD’s commands for them to disperse despite the fact that the department warned that failure to comply with the order to leave will result in the use of chemical agents such as tear gas – which was then deployed minutes later, along with flash-bang grenades. This occurred after 11 p.m., by which time the violent mob had dwindled to around 200 people, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The RPD continued to pursue smaller and smaller groups of protesters until after 2 a.m. on Sunday morning.
While all of this was occurring, the city’s fire department was put to work dealing with several fires that the rioters started in the area. This included a city dump truck that had been set on fire right outside the RPD’s headquarters. The arson attack against city property is what triggered the declaration of an unlawful assembly.
The dump truck fire was quickly extinguished after the RPD secured the area. Meanwhile, groups of firefighters were sent out to deal with other smaller fires during the rest of the night, including several dumpster fires and one mattress that was placed in the middle of a street before a rioter ignited it.