Lynchburg protest organizer reacts to what she says was supposed to be peaceful demonstration

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The aftermath of protests in downtown Lynchburg is leaving people in disbelief, including the protest organizer.

Stacey O’Hara says this was supposed to be a peaceful protest. It started Sunday afternoon and she says by 10 p.m., there were at least 90 people and tensions were high between police, protestors and the armed citizens trying to Fifth & Federal Station.

“Right before I left, people started challenging police ... almost like they’re trying to hurt them and ... at that point I was begging, pleading, ‘please step back please don’t do this,’” said O’Hara.

O’Hara said shortly after, she left for her safety because it had gotten too out of hand. She teared up this morning seeing the damage and knowing people were hurt.

Windows at Anderson Motor Company had windows busted out by rocks, and other businesses were damaged throughout the night.

10 News spoke to a man who used to work at Fifth & Federal about a year ago who went downtown after seeing the vandalism on Facebook.

“I love Lynchburg. I’m not taking any sides. I don’t think vandalizing Fifth & Federal s exactly a good idea, but I do think what the owner said was horrible poor business taste and poor moral taste,” said Mark Cash.

Cash said that his girlfriend was working at the restaurant when protests started taking a turn.

“When she arrived work ... the phone kept ringing and people were very aggressive, so I told her ‘you have to leave.’ So we called the owner and said ‘Chloe is locking it up and we’re leaving,’” said Cash.

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