Protests continue for third day in Roanoke

Roanoke police chief spoke to protesters for first time Monday

ROANOKE, Va. – Monday evening, protests continued in Roanoke. As of 7:45 p.m., about 50 protesters were standing on the sidewalk at the intersection of Campbell Avenue and 3rd Street.

Protesters gathered late Monday afternoon outside the city’s police department, eventually speaking with Police Chief Sam Roman.

“He asked you three questions,” one protester shouted at the chief, saying the chief did not answer the questions.

Roman’s appearance came after repeated calls all weekend long by protesters for him to come to the protests and talk to them.

“Unfortunately, my time was at a premium,” Roman said in an interview with 10 News Monday morning.

Roman ended his conversation with protesters Monday afternoon by saying he had a meeting to get to.

That did not sit well with the protesters.

As Roman walked away, the protesters followed him for a short distance.

A short time later, they moved next door to the city jail and then a little further down the sidewalk on Campbell Avenue.

In his Monday morning interview with 10 News, Roman said he always tries to reach out and talk to the community as much as possible and is responding to the calls and emails he’s getting.

“The comments, obviously, are as broad and variant as perspectives," said Roman. "I understand where the frustrations are coming from.”

As for meeting with protesters in the future, he did not say yes or no.

Instead, saying he hopes to talk to protest organizers before a protest and be involved in the planning process.

Monday’s protest followed three weekend protests.

The first was an hourslong, peaceful protest Saturday afternoon with protesters marching from Washington Park to the police department and then back to the park.

Late Saturday night until early Sunday morning, a different group of protesters, numbering possibly in the hundreds, marched through the streets of downtown Roanoke. This group had also been to the Valley View Walmart, also making stops at Target nearby, the Burlington on Hershberger Road and the Sheetz across from the Berglund Center.

[Breaking down the timeline of Saturday evening’s Roanoke protests]

The group ended at the police department where someone threw a firework over the group and into the lines of police officers outside the police department.

Police then declared the protest an unlawful assembly and officers then began dispersing the protesters.

On Sunday, protesters gathered for a couple of hours at the police department, then marched to Market Square and spent several hours there.

Monday afternoon, businesses said they were only a little nervous as the protest was taking place Sunday.

“You see everything that’s going on in other, bigger cities," said Bayou Snowballs owner Crystal Bolton.

The business is directly across the street from Market Square.

Bolton applauds the police department’s handling of the protest.

“I think the Roanoke City Police Department did a really great job of giving them their space and allowing them to protest and have their time," said Bolton. “For us, it was okay. But after you close, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Three Notch’d is also directly across the street.

General Manager Emily Laney said Sunday’s gathering was the definition of a peaceful protest.

“It was great. It was a true, genuine expression of the right to free speech and the right to convene in protest," Laney said.

Both she and Bolton and the chief are glad to see people standing up for what they believe in.

“I understand the sentiments of the people right now and I share in some of those sentiments," Roman said.

“Being able to express yourself in a peaceful protest is important," said Bolton.

“We as individuals, we as Americans, we have that right to take a stance and we have that right to put that out there and stand up for what we believe in," Laney said.

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