Thu. Jul 2nd, 2020

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Protester accounts describe aggressive police response

2 min read

by KATE SELTZER

Editor-In-Chief

Police respond to continued Black Lives Matter protests in Fredericksburg with heavy force.

A video posted by Twitter user @SaintMaxwell__ of an event Sunday night shows a young woman, who has since been identified as Olivia Moran, approaching a police officer in riot gear while at a protest in Fredericksburg. Several other officers in riot gear stood behind the officer as Moran approached. The officer in question proceeded to pepper spray Moran in the face from about an arm’s length away. Moran stumbled to the ground, where she was then lifted around the stomach by a second officer before being dropped back to the ground.

Sarah Kirkpatrick, public information officer of the Fredericksburg Police Department, said that she was unable to comment on a video she had not seen. The Blue & Gray Press has since forwarded the video to Kirkpatrick shortly before publication and is currently awaiting a response.

Additional protesters in Fredericksburg said that on a separate occasion, four police officers held down a man as he was crossing the street and proceeded to zip-tied his hands. This account appears to be corroborated by a photo posted by the Free Lance-Star.

On both Tuesday, June 2 and Wednesday, June 3, two separate protests took place: one sanctioned by the Fredericksburg Police Department, and one not. 

Kirkpatrick said in an email that the protesters at these events were “very appreciative” and that the police-sanctioned march was “well received.”

Protesters reported that on Wednesday, many marchers left the police-sanctioned event to attend the alternative protest. About 200 protesters marched down UMW’s Campus Walk without police presence and congregated at the James Farmer statue. Protesters disbanded around 8 p.m.

Police made 36 arrests on Tuesday, according to Kirkpatrick. The arrests included 26 charges of curfew violation, eight charges of pedestrian in roadway, one charge of unlawful assembly, one for noise violation (revving exhaust), one for reckless driving and one for concealed weapon (brass knuckles).

An additional 15 arrests were made on Wednesday.

According to Kirkpatrick, law enforcement present at the protests included, in addition to the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Department, mutual aid from the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, King George County Sheriff’s Office, Rappahannock Regional Jail and University of Mary Washington Police Department.

The City of Fredericksburg has extended its curfew through June 8, prohibiting public activity from 8:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day.

This story is evolving.

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