Charges have been brought against Virginia Democratic state senator Louise Lucas and 14 others for the partial dismantling of a Confederate monument in June. According to Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene, the act caused “life-threatening” and “permanent injury” of a man.
Some fellow Democrats say these charges are ridiculous as Lucas’s opposition to the racist confederate monument was ‘good trouble’, as John Lewis would have put it.
Lucas joined the state senate in 1992 and achieved the remarkable feat of being the first Black woman to serve as president pro tempore of the state senate, according to the Virginia Senate Democrats.
A Portsmouth school board member, Portsmouth NAACP President James Boyd, chapter members and three public defenders are also facing charges and Lucas has been charged with “conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000,” CNN reported. If convicted, she’s facing a possible prison sentence of one to five years.
Greene has admonished the individuals being charged to voluntarily turn themselves in. Lucas turned herself in to the Portsmouth, Virginia, sheriff’s office Tuesday, a day after she was charged. She was released on a personal recognizance bond Tuesday afternoon.
“During this time of our nation’s unrest, which was a direct result of the heinous death of Mr. George Floyd, countless monuments across our nation were being defaced by protestors.
“Many of those localities investigated the acts of destruction and subsequently charged the responsible parties well after the incidents were over,” Greene said, adding that the Portsmouth incident was the only one nationwide that resulted in a man being gravely injured.
There were protests after the death of Floyd, sparking people’s interest in the demolition of Confederate monuments and flags as they were symbols of racism.
The injured man, Chris Green, suffered life-threatening injuries during protests and the attempt to remove the Portsmouth monument built in 1876 “resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage,” Greene said.
There were investigations into the incidents by the Portsmouth Police department and the Virginia State Police.
“A team of detectives and supervisors” compiled written, video, and audio evidence surrounding the destruction of the confederate monument, Greene said.
Greene confirmed that additional state and federal investigations were requested for another independent investigation but the requests “fell outside of the scope of investigation for those law enforcement entities.”
Discussions with the Portsmouth commonwealth attorney for a special grand jury and special prosecutor did not also yield results, Greene said.
Among the people condemning the charges was the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus along with other Virginia Democrats.
Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe also tweeted in support of Lucas Monday, saying she is “a trailblazing public servant who isn’t afraid to do and say what she believes is right.”
Lucas has been a Democratic state senator since 1992 and is a member of a group of lawmakers calling for police reforms. Many therefore believe that the timing of her charges is suspicious.
Governor Ralph Northam also added his voice in a tweet and said, “It’s deeply troubling that on the verge of Virginia passing long-overdue police reform, the first Black woman to serve as our Senate Pro Tempore is suddenly facing highly unusual charges.”