Between Issues

RICHMOND YOUTH SPEAK OUT

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

Originally published June 13, 2020 to the Virginia Defender Facebook page.

By Phil Wilayto

RICHMOND, VA, June 13 — The largely youthful anti-police-abuse protests of the past two weeks in Richmond got a voice of their own today as several hundred mostly young people turned out for what was promoted as an RVA Youth Rally. (Facebook event page here.)

Photo of RVA Youth Rally speakers and organizers posing with the statue of Maggie L. Walker.

The event, organized by African-American teenagers Stephanie Younger and Makayla White, was held from 10 a.m. to noon at the Maggie Lena Walker Memorial Plaza at West Broad and North Adams streets.

Photograph of the crowd. The child’s sign reads “When do I go from being cute to a threat?”

Among the organizations represented by speakers or performances were Art 180, Advocates for Richmond Youth, Bodies N’ Motion, Brown Ballerinas For Change, Justice & Reformation and The Writer’s Den. Ram Bhagat, founder of Drums No Guns, played the Reiki drum.

One of the loudest crowd responses was when Rebecca Wooden of Justice & Reformation read the demands being raised by the family of Marcus-David Peters, a young African-American high school teacher fatally shot in May 14, 2018, by a Richmond police officer while Peters was experiencing a mental health crisis. (See accompaning list of demands.)

Photograph of the rally, the mural of Richmond’s Fighting Editor John Mitchell Jr. looking down to the crowd.

Volunteer security was beefed up in light of recent security problems at other local Black Lives Matter events. Bike marshals ringed the rally, as did a security squad provided by the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality. Police cars and officers were stationed around the plaza, but did not interfere with the event.

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