What started as a peaceful protest ended in chaos with broken glass at local businesses and several arrests of demonstrators.
Protesters gathered at Peninsula Town Center Tuesday night to protest police brutality after the Minneapolis death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck.
Prior to the protest on Tuesday, Black Lives Matter 757 leaders posted on Facebook the event in Hampton was not affiliated with the group and warned it could possibly be a setup.
The Hampton Police Department on Wednesday released a statement about the protests and confirmed the event was organized by an unknown person via social media –––not organized by or affiliated with the Black Lives Matter group.
Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday allowed Hampton’s request to implement a temporary curfew “due to civil unrest.”
The curfew will be from 8 p.m. – 6 a.m. effective Wednesday through Saturday, according to the governor’s office. While the curfew is in effect, people must remain in their homes and may only leave for emergencies or travel to and from home, work, or church.
Authorities said the protesters gathered in the Target parking lot around 9 p.m. Tuesday, then walked toward Coliseum Drive and then West Mercury Boulevard before coming back to Peninsula Town Center, splitting in two groups.
“One group remained in the Target parking lot, engaged in peaceful dialogue with the officers, while the other group made their way to the area of Interstate 64,” according to the news release. “Once on Interstate 64, the second group physically stopped traffic in both directions by positioning themselves in the roadway for approximately one hour.”
Police said the crowd dispersed but some protesters returned to Peninsula Town Center meeting with the first group before confronting police officers.
Authorities said a demonstrator set off a homemade explosive and shots were fired at the police officers with some protesters refusing to leave, some throwing glass bottles with urine and feces among other items.
The protest ended around 1:08 a.m. Wednesday and 10 people were arrested: 8 adults and two juveniles, authorities said. One protester was injured but refused treatment, according to police.
No officers were injured, police said.
Three firearms were also recovered and several businesses had been vandalized and looted.
It’s unclear how many businesses were affected by Tuesday’s protest and police are investigating other people involved in the vandalism.
In addition to Hampton, the Newport News and Portsmouth police departments, the Hampton Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police also responded to the Peninsula Town Center.
“While the Hampton Police Division supports the right to peaceful protest, demonstrations that incite violence and mayhem cannot and will not be tolerated in our society and in particular, our City,” according to the police department’s statement. “The Hampton Police Division remains committed to working with our citizens, community, and faith-based leaders to strengthen relationships, resolve social injustices, and to build trust through valued partnerships.”
Town Center posted this on Facebook:
YOU MIGHT ALSO WANT TO CHECK OUT THESE STORIES:
- ‘I can’t breathe’: Cry of protesters resonate in James City County
- ‘Black people are used to this’: Historic church in Williamsburg responds to protests
- More protests are expected. Here’s how localities in the Historic Triangle are preparing
- First a pandemic, then ‘violence across the Commonwealth.” Northam declares state of emergency