This story was published between issues of the newspaper. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes.
Originally published June 15, 2020 to the Virginia Defender Facebook page.
By Phil Wilayto
RICHMOND, VA, June 15 — After months of the coronavirus lock-down and more than two weeks of Black Lives Matter protests that have been met with new police aggression, it looks like things could get even tenser in the capital city.
Within 24 hours of being posted online last night, a call for armed “patriots” to mass in Richmond this Saturday, June 20 and drive off protesters from the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue to “protect” those symbols of white supremacy has now been shared more than 1,000 times.
The self-styled “Call to Action” was posted by a man named Manolo Vega, whose Facebook page describes him as a former Marine and Iraq war veteran. The video version of the Call, which had more details about plans for Saturday, has apparently now been blocked or removed, but, as of this evening, the 1,067-word manifesto-style written statement was still accessible on Vega’s Facebook page.
In the statement, Vega says, “I AM DONE! Law and Order best be restored within one week and those responsible for the chaos and destruction in my town of Richmond, Virginia, must be sought and be held accountable by law enforcement and our justice system. If law enforcement continues to neglect their duties, then it is up to us, the Citizens of the Commonwealth. I have no problem conducting a citizen’s arrest of a law enforcement officer for negligence.”
In the same piece, Vega writes: “Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax, Mark Herring, Levar Stoney…YOU HAVE ONE WEEK TO RESIGN or you gentlemen will experience hell in Richmond, ‘cause WE ARE COMING AND WE AREN’T LEAVING. We come in peace, but we come armed, per our Constitutional Right, guaranteed to us. We are a show of force to be reckoned with. We are Citizens, NOT SUBJECTS!”
The statement ends with this all-caps finish:
COME ARMED, COME WITH TENTS, COME WITH YOUR OWN FOOD. WE WILL ESTABLISH A ROLLING FIRE WATCH. INVITE YOUR FELLOW PISSED OFF VIRGINIAN AND AMERICAN. MASS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.
Responding this afternoon to a request for a comment from The Virginia Defender, Richmond police emailed, “The Richmond Police Department is aware of the online posts that have invited people to Richmond on Saturday. As always, the Department asks that anyone who wishes to exercise their First Amendment rights to do so peacefully.”