Community News

AT THE MDP CIRCLE

Originally published in the Summer 2020 edition of the Virginia Defender, printed August 14. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in this issue or download the full PDF, see this post. For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

Staff Report

The Robert E. Lee statue may still be standing, but the circle around it is now named in honor of a Black man fatally shot on May 14, 2018, by a Richmond cop. Photo by Phil Wilayto.

It was Monday, Aug. 10, about an hour before sunset, and Jeffrey Peters was where he often is these days: At the circle named for his nephew, Marcus-David Peters.

“It’s real peaceful here,” he told the Defender. “It’s community. People are walking around, sharing fruit and herbs from the garden. I usually come during the day, but I met a gentleman who’s down here in the evenings more than I am, and he says it’s the same feeling. People bring their families, there’s cold water, food, just a good atmosphere.”

Peters says he’s been coming to the Marcus-David Peters Circle for about a month and a half.

“I was a little hesitant to come out when the first uprising started, because I didn’t want people to think I was stepping on George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” he said. “But then a friend said, Hey, why aren’t you going down there? And that changed my mind. And when we came down, we were well-received.

“There’s food now, but people aren’t cooking anymore, because they took all their grills. They used to cook and feed the homeless, give out hot dogs, hamburgers, juice, chips. The police were complaining about that, giving people stuff for free.”

So when did people start calling it the Marcus-David Peters Circle?

“The first day I came down here, I saw a handwritten sign. Then that disappeared and someone put up another. Then that disappeared and another one went up, a little bigger, and in a couple of days that was gone.

“Then the big one went up. I don’t know who did it. It was done organically, by the community. It just brought my nephew back into the conversation. If you come down here and you see the big sign that says Marcus-David Peters, you say, Who is that? So that’s why I come down here, to tell people who he was. People talk about Black Lives Matter, but we need to address the people who have been killed here, right in this town.

“The only time there’s really trouble is when someone drives by and calls us [the nword]. A few days ago, someone drove by and yelled at a white woman that they were going to cut her head off. Inside the Circle, in the last two months, there were maybe one or two verbal confrontations, but people work it out. The only time I see violence is when the cops come.”

The grassy circle around the Lee statue is owned by the state, so technically it comes under the capitol or state police.

“The police don’t come into the Circle, only if the state police come in, they’ll go in behind them,” Peters said. “The only people they’re bothering now are the ones with the tents. Their main thing is to come down here and agitate the people on the outside, where they have jurisdiction. And that’s the only time there are problems.

By then it was dark, and Peters was getting ready to go home.

“It’s community taking care of community,” he said. “All of us are playing our part. We can’t let them divide us. We work out our differences in private, and then come together in public as one.”

Categories: Community News

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