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ACLU of Virginia calls for police accountability, protections for racial justice protesters

ACLUThe ACLU of Virginia, along with Southerners on New Ground and Richmond for All, sent a letter today to Richmond Police Chief William Smith, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, and Richmond City Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin regarding the recent protests against police violence that have erupted in the past two weeks.

The ACLU-VA raised concerns over the Richmond Police Department response to protests at Lee Monument on June 1 and other incidents of escalation of violence against protesters.

The organization also cited a recent incident that occurred this weekend on June 13, when a Richmond police SUV was filmed hitting a crowd of protesters near the Lee monument.

While Mayor Stoney and Chief Smith have acknowledged that the actions police took against protesters and members of the media before curfew were unjustified and excessive, advocacy organizations say that’s not enough.

“After-the-fact apologies are, however, insufficient to remedy the harm and ongoing risk that individuals face when exercising their constitutional rights in this city,” said ACLU-VA Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga in the letter. “All of you must take positive action—individually and collectively—to lead changes in the laws, policies, practices, and police culture that allowed these events to take place.”

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