Officers Injured, Michaela G. Hatton Arrested During Violent Demonstration outside RPD HQ
Richmond, Virginia (STL.News) A demonstration by protesters overnight outside the Richmond Police Department Headquarters at 200 W. Grace Street turned violent, resulting in injuries to several law enforcement officers, property damage and one arrest.
“This demonstration escalated into rioting and violence that lasted throughout the night and into the early morning hours,” said Richmond Police Chief William C. Smith. “Last night’s actions far exceeded what is considered to be lawful First Amendment activity. Organizers were intent on provocation and creating mayhem by throwing rocks and other objects at the officers on duty, who showed great restraint in response to these attacks.”
Three officers were injured during the rioting. Several city vehicles, including city dump trucks, sustained significant damage. Several privately owned buildings in the area were also vandalized. Numerous dumpster fires were set with the intent to destroy public and private property.
The escalating violence prompted multiple declarations of an unlawful assembly, which was broadcast to the crowd several times with instructions to disperse. After warnings were disregarded, a pepper spray fogger was deployed.
One person was taken into custody after crossing the police line after repeated warnings not to do so. When a RPD officer attempted to stop her, the suspect struck the officer in the head with a bullhorn. Michaela G. Hatton, 22, of Richmond, was charged with felony assault on a law enforcement officer and conspiracy to incite a riot. During the booking process, Ms. Hatton refused to provide her personal information, as required by law.
At her hearing Monday, the judge also banned her from any actions tending to incite criminal activity.
Chief Smith drew a distinction between the overwhelming majority of protestors who are peacefully and lawfully exercising their rights and those who are seeking to do harm to the community through acts of violence, inciting conflict with law enforcement and destroying property.
“We fully support peaceful demonstrations, but we will not tolerate the violent assault of police officers, the threats to law-abiding members of our residential and business community or the willful destruction of city and private property,” said Chief Smith.
“I expect my officers to remain patient and professional during this trying time, and will hold accountable those who do not uphold this standard. But demonstrators must practice non-violence, and under no circumstance will I allow violent protest to continue to harm our community.”