Between Issues

STATEMENT BY DEFENDER JOSEPH ROGERS ON THE EVENTS OF THE NIGHT OF JUNE 1, 2020

This story was published between issues of the newspaper. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes.

Originally published June 2, 2020, to the Virginia Defender Facebook page.

By Joseph Rogers

Last night the Richmond Police Department used tear gas and other chemical agents against city residents gathered at the Lee and Stewart Monuments. I watched a mother bury her daughter’s face in her shirt to spare her from the gas. People with their dogs fled to keep their pets safe having brought them to a peaceful gathering. Friends, siblings, and total strangers got up from being on their knees with hands in the air to grabbing for one another to get whomever they could to safety. The police last night were brutal and unwarranted in their aggression.

But this post isn’t about that.

This post is about the marchers who formed back up. It is about the people who stayed after an ambulance had to carry away someone who had inhaled the gas. It is about the folks who reclaimed the statues from which they had been driven away.

This post is about the people who left their houses as the march picked up again down Monument Avenue. The people who waved and chanted and offered food and drink and rest to anyone who needed it.

This post is about the drivers of the cars who, after hearing about the gassing, dropped whatever they were doing, wherever they were, and put themselves in the front and back of the line to shield marchers from other vehicles and the only source of violence last night, the police.

This post is about the young black man – because they were almost all young and almost all black last night – who said “I really thought that Richmond hated each other, but all I feel is love here.”

This post is about our city rising to demand a better life, a better world. About doing it together, brought out by grief, fueled by anger, and guided by love.

This post is about Richmond.

Contact: DefendersFJE@hotmail.com

Categories: Between Issues

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