Roanoke City protests continue, police chief, city leaders speak out

‘I want them to feel like it’s a transparent communication from both ends’

ROANOKE, Va. – As peaceful protests continue in Roanoke, city and police officials are speaking out about George Floyd’s death and the reaction from citizens.

Protesters stood along Campbell Avenue most of Wednesday, chanting and holding signs, angered by the killing of George Floyd and other unarmed black men and women. Protesters told 10 News, they don’t feel like they are being heard by police.

Protestors hold signs outside the Roanoke City Police Department on Wednesday. (WSLS)

City officials held a virtual news conference on Wednesday to say they are heartbroken by Floyd’s death and the actions of the Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s death are inexcusable. They said they’ve worked hard to represent the city’s citizens to make sure that everyone has equal access to success.

Police Chief Sam Roman admitted that no police department is perfect, but said his is taking steps to hire a diverse force and train officers properly.

He did say he’d like to do more emotional intelligence testing of candidates and involve citizens in the hiring process by having them attend police interviews.

“We would definitely really like to move to, in more broad senses, involve our community and hiring a police officers throughout agencies across Virginia and beyond. I think there is currently limited opportunities for our citizens to be a part of that process,” said Roman.

Still protesters are calling for more conversations.

“I want our community to work with our law enforcement. I want them to work with our mayor. I want them to work with our council members. I want them to feel as if it’s a transparent communication from both ends,” said protester Tony Phan.

Roman did defend his officers’ use of pepper spray during protests on Saturday, saying there were threats of property damage and violence. Police blocked off certain sections of Campbell Avenue, but when protesters didn’t obey, that’s when police took action.

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You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!