LYNCHBURG, Va. – A group of armed citizens volunteered as security at the Lynchburg restaurant that was at the center of protests, which turned violent overnight.
It all started when Fifth and Federal supported a tweet from Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. that showed a picture of a face mask with the blackface photo from Gov. Northam’s yearbook page on it.
If you get extra made let us know! We would offer them to our staff as a mask option!— Fifth & Federal (@Fifthandfederal) May 27, 2020
The business has since issued a statement apologizing to anyone who thought they were supporting racism. Rather, they, "stand for freedom from the oppressive government actions of Governor Northam.”
Demonstrations were originally focused on the restaurant’s response to Falwell’s tweet, but then shifted to George Floyd and the treatment of African Americans.
Around 9 p.m., the situation became violent when protesters returned. Rocks, bricks and other objects were thrown through the windows of the restaurant while people hunkered down inside behind the bar.
“Everybody was just taking cover, some of them came really close to the building and we had to position our firearms and say, 'hey, look, don’t come in here’ ... they backed off," said Peter Alexander, one of the armed citizens.
Once officers arrived at the scene, police say protesters started throwing rocks and assaulting officers. Several officers were injured and one was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.