Thursday, April 18, 2024

First a pandemic, then ‘violence across the Commonwealth.” Northam declares state of emergency

Protesters gathered in Hampton and Norfolk Friday, May 29, 2020, demanding justice for George Floyd. (WYDaily/Courtesy of 13NewsNow)
Protesters gathered in Hampton and Norfolk Friday, May 29, 2020, demanding justice for George Floyd. (WYDaily/Courtesy of 13NewsNow)

Gov. Ralph Northam Sunday afternoon cited the “escalating violence across the Commonwealth” in declaring a state of emergency.

Northam specifically granted a request from Mayor Levar Stoney to extend a curfew in the city of Richmond.

Police headquarters in Richmond had been the target of protesters. A dumpster was set ablaze Saturday near the police headquarters, which had its front windows broken out Friday night. Police fired tear gas to move crowds away from the building.

The previous night, a police cruiser and a dumpster near Richmond Police headquarters had been set on fire.

Protesters in some cities such as Richmond have also been targeting Confederate monuments.

Photos posted to social media late Saturday and early Sunday showed the bases of at least two statues in Richmond — those of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart — almost entirely covered in graffiti. A statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis had “cops ran us over,” spray-painted on the base. A noose had been flung over Davis’ shoulder.

A fire burned for a time at the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group responsible for erecting many Confederate statues and fighting their removal. The building, too, was covered in graffiti.

In Norfolk, protesters climbed a Confederate monument and spray-painted graffiti on its base. Norfolk is among the Virginia cities that have signaled intent to remove their Confederate monuments. In February, state lawmakers approved legislation that would give cities autonomy to do so.

“This emergency declaration will provide the necessary support to localities as they work to keep our communities safe, Northam said. “There are many voices speaking out for justice and healing across the United States and in our Commonwealth, but others are exploiting this pain and inciting violence.”

A state of emergency allows the state to mobilize resources, including the Virginia National Guard, and pre-position people and equipment to assist localities in their efforts to de-escalate violent protests and protect public safety.

It allocates $350,000 for state and local governments and state response and recovery operations authorized and coordinated through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

The order extends a curfew in Richmond between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Sunday, May 31 through Wednesday, June 3.

People must remain in their homes during those times and may only leave to seek emergency services or travel to and from home, work, or places of worship, according to the declaration

The full text of the emergency declaration can be found here.

Numerous protests – some violent – have continued in cities across the nation.

The protests are spurred by the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis – they all demand justice for Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck.

The now former officer, Derek Chauvin, 44, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin, who was fired along with three other officers who were at the scene, faces more than 12 years in prison if convicted of murder.

Protests continued in Hampton Roads and the Peninsula over the weekend, all with the same cries: “No Justice. No peace.” “I can’t breathe.”

Local movement have mostly been peaceful. Two adults and two juveniles were arrested in Hampton Friday night for assault on law enforcement and disorderly conduct — they were not among the Black Lives Matter 757 group, police said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

Related Articles