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article imageRichmond protesters dispersed for setting up 'Reclamation Square'

By Karen Graham     Jun 23, 2020 in Politics
Richmond - Richmond Police and Virginia State Police shut down what protesters dubbed "Reclamation Square" outside Richmond City Hall early Tuesday morning. Police ended up using tear gas, pepper spray, and flashbangs to disperse the crowd in front of city hall.
The attempted gathering by protesters started forming Monday evening after city and state leaders said the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee - miles away on Monument Avenue would be indefinitely closed from sunset until sunrise every night, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
The gathering that began on Monday night marks 25 straight days of protest against police brutality and racial injustice brought about by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25.
Earlier Monday, officials issued a statement saying that the Lee Monument statue would be closed from sunset to sunrise each night for safety reasons, citing an increase in vandalism, trespassing, excessive noise, and more.
The statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond  Virginia  on June 18  2020
The statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, on June 18, 2020
TASOS KATOPODIS, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
Actually, the site has become the epicenter of block parties with music and food. People from across the state have come to observe the statue and its graffiti. A sign unofficially renamed the location as “Marcus-David Peters Circle” after the high school teacher killed by a Richmond police officer in 2018.
The Lee Monument is just one of a number of statues lining Monument Avenue, a broad residential tree-lined street extending for some five miles from inner-city Richmond westward into Henrico County, As readers can see, the statue of Robert E. Lee has been defaced with all kinds of graffiti and anti-racism signs.
The long, grassy strip is punctuated by statues memorializing Virginian Confederate veterans of the American Civil War, including Robert E. Lee, J. E. B. Stuart, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Jefferson Davis, now removed, and Matthew Fontaine Maury. There is also a monument to Arthur Ashe, a black Richmond-native, ardent civil rights supporter and international tennis star.
The Jefferson Davis Memorial was a memorial for Jefferson Davis  president of the Confederate States...
The Jefferson Davis Memorial was a memorial for Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865,
olekinderhook
The first monument, an equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee, was erected in 1890. Between 1900 and 1925, Monument Avenue greatly expanded with architecturally significant houses, churches, and apartment buildings.
Significantly, the memorial to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865, still stands. A bronze statue of Davis - in the center - was torn down by protesters on June 10, 2020. Most people may not be aware of this, but the rest of the monument remains untouched. This includes the central column and the statue of Vindicatrix, representing Southern womanhood, along with two plaques.
“Reclamation Square" has a short lifespan
Protesters continued to remain at the Lee statue after sunset Monday night, even though they had been given ample warning to leave. Meanwhile, about 100 protesters had set up tents and created an encampment outside city hall on East Marshall between North Ninth and North 10th streets in downtown Richmond.
A banner with the words "Reclamation Square" was set up and pamphlets, demanding police reforms from city leaders, were being handed out to a gathering crowd. “Our guiding principle is, ‘Black liberation by any means necessary,’ ” the pamphlet read.
Beth Almore, a local teacher, snapped photos of the makeshift memorials to document them, fearing they would be removed and discarded if police overtook the circle. “I was concerned about that,” said Almore, adding that she hopes they will be preserved by the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.
"This is an interesting moment in the history of Richmond and it needs to be documented. As an African American woman ... the artwork for me is healing an ulcer. I felt for the first time I could breathe when I passed this statue.”
More about Rishmond protesters, reclamation square, Lee cMonument, Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, Unlawful Assembly
 
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