ROANOKE, Va. – Capitol Square will not be open to the public Saturday after violent protests in Richmond Friday night into Saturday morning.
Crowds gathered Friday night to protest the death of George Floyd who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minnesota.
Windows were smashed and fires were set. A police car was set on fire and a bus was destroyed. Police sprayed gas and the crowd scattered.
Bus service will also be delayed Saturday in Richmond and possibly canceled for the safety of staff and customers.
Buildings and cars were also spray painted.
The decision was made to close the Capitol Square after the protests turned violent in downtown Richmond. A window was broken in the Barbara Johns Building, which houses the Office of the Attorney General, and the Virginia Capitol Visitor’s Entrance, Virginia Supreme Court Building and Washington Building were vandalized as crowds surrounded Capitol Square. Capitol Square generally is closed from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. daily. DGS and Capitol Police will monitor activity near Capitol Square to determine when it is appropriate to reopen to the public.
Across Virginia other protests are scheduled for Saturday.
A protest is set to start at 3 p.m. in Roanoke in Washington Park.
Roanoke’s mayor shared a message via Facebook on Friday night in reference to recent events, likely including George Floyd’s death.
Mayor Sherman Lea wrote, “Within recent weeks we have witnessed events across our country that have caused anger, division, unrest, and unparalleled sadness for many families and entire communities.”
Lea referenced growing up as a teenager in the 60′s and experiencing the “cruelty of racism” firsthand.
In Charlottesville, people will come together at the Charlottesville police station. Organizers of the Charlottesville protest ask everyone to practice physical distancing, six feet apart from each other. Masks will be provided for those who do not have one. Some community members will be gathering to support the protest by car.