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VCU damage from Richmond riot expected to top $100,000, university president says

VCU president asks Commonwealth’s Attorney to press charges against those responsible
Damage from Richmond riot at VCU expected to top $100,000, university president says
Posted at 5:36 PM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-27 17:36:26-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond riot that started Saturday night and continued into early Sunday morning caused in excess of $100,000 in damages at Virginia Commonwealth University, according to the university's president.

Police declared an unlawful assembly as hundreds gathered outside Richmond Police Headquarters around 11 p.m. during a demonstration in support of protesters in Portland, Oregon.

That "loosely organized group" blocked traffic, shattered windows, tagged buildings and sidewalks with graffiti and set fires as they marched through downtown, the VCU campus and the Fan, a Richmond Police spokesperson said in a news release Sunday afternoon.
according to police.

VCU and VCU Health System President Michael Rao said damage to the campus is estimated at more than $100,000.

"About 80 windows were broken in a dozen buildings along with site furnishings dragged onto the street and damaged and numerous buildings tagged with graffiti," Rao wrote.

The university's president said "violence against people and deliberate destruction of property are contrary to the values of our community," so he has asked the Commonwealth’s Attorney to press charges against those responsible.

"We are concerned about groups that promote destruction and violence co-opting important social justice reform movements," Rao wrote. "VCU supports free speech and stands in solidarity with those peacefully expressing messages of social justice and equity for all people. VCU does not condone - under any circumstance - acts of violence or vandalism, regardless of the purported cause."

Rao issued the following statement to the university community Sunday:

It is heartbreaking to see extensive damage at our Monroe Park Campus following a violent demonstration overnight in Richmond. About 80 windows were broken in a dozen buildings along with site furnishings dragged onto the street and damaged and numerous buildings tagged with graffiti. Damage is being assessed now, but it is expected to be more than $100,000.

Both Richmond and VCU Police tell us the demonstrators were different last night compared to those participating in other peaceful demonstrations that occurred in Richmond over the last several weeks. The protest was promoted in social media and flyers to be destructive, ostensibly to support protests in Portland.

We are concerned about groups that promote destruction and violence co-opting important social justice reform movements.

VCU supports free speech and stands in solidarity with those peacefully expressing messages of social justice and equity for all people. VCU does not
condone - under any circumstance - acts of violence or vandalism, regardless of the purported cause.

Violence against people and deliberate destruction of property are contrary to the values of our community and will not be tolerated. VCU has asked the Commonwealth’s Attorney to press criminal charges against any individuals involved.

The safety of our university and health system campuses are of paramount importance. Our greatest contribution to equity and inclusion of our people is to provide a conducive environment for learning,
working, living and health care for our students, patients, faculty, staff and health care team members.

I am confident that you, too, share our commitment to social justice and equality, peaceful expression and also our repudiation of violence and vandalism.

Police chief believes Antifa, Boogaloo boys were at Richmond riot

The chief of police believes members of Antifa and the Boogaloo boys were part of the hundreds of people who marched to Richmond Police Headquarters Saturday night during a demonstration in support of protesters in Portland, Oregon. That group continued marching leaving a path of destruction that included windows shattered at restaurants, businesses and a Virginia Commonwealth University dorm.

"We have identified some individuals who have been seen with the Boogaloo boys and some Antifa groups around the area," Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said during a news conference Sunday afternoon. "The majority of those individuals who were there last night were Caucasian."

Smith also said that he believed some in the crowd were Antifa-influenced.

"And some of the individuals that we encountered were from outside of Richmond, Virginia, and some of the surrounding area," Smith noted.
Smith said an online flyer for the “Richmond Stands with Portland” demonstration, which had been circulating for days and called for violence, did not originate in Richmond."

"We know that the origin of the flyer came from outside of Richmond," Smith said. "There are some people who are still inside some of these organizations that will still give us information. And that's how we know it came from outside of Richmond.

Officials said the six men arrested Saturday night were not charged in the vandalism and destruction in several Richmond neighborhoods. (Two of those suspects were charged with felonies: assault on a law enforcement officer; possession of a firearm while rioting.)

PHOTOS: Rioters leave path of destruction across Richmond

When asked when those responsible for the destruction would be held responsible, Smith said police are "utilizing a lot of video to identify people."

Smith had this message to the owners of businesses, like Graduate Richmond, the Village Cafe, Chipotle, Noodles & Company, Panda Express, Rick's Pizza and SWEAT in the Fan, were damaged.

"We still stand with them and we hope that they continue to stand with us," Smith said. "And know that we are not necessarily laying down on this -- we're not. What we are doing is doing vigorous investigations to identify these individuals to hold them accountable for everything that they did."

The chief and the mayor later thanked the 200 Virginia State troopers who helped with the demonstration as well as the Richmond police officers who worked during their vacation or days off.

Police want videos

The police chief urged anyone with video of the riot, including the media, to turn send it to Crime Stoppers to help investigators.

"And we will be more than happy to review that footage to help us identify who these rioters were," Smith said. "You capture things that we may not have seen or individuals we may not have seen."

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000 or at www.7801000.com. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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