Heated city council meeting leads to change in Lynchburg’s curfew

LYNCHBURG, Va. – A Lynchburg City Council meeting got heated at times on Wednesday as city leaders discussed changing the time of the newly-established curfew.

Starting Wednesday night, Lynchburg’s curfew starts at 9 p.m., an hour later than Tuesday.

This move comes after city leaders declared a state of emergency amid three nights of protests throughout the Hill City, two of which turned violent.

Council members went back and forth for at least an hour discussing when the curfew should end. Some argued it was an inconvenience to business owners.

“It’s life sweat, blood and tears you put into your businesses, and we want to save it and we want to save both," said Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy.

Wednesday’s special city council meeting came with a lot of fight back.

The issue at hand: Amending the city manager’s original curfew time of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“The allegation that decisions are being made willy nilly, out of context, is totally unfair and unfounded and very difficult to sit here and take," said city manager Bonnie Svrcek.

Svrcek implemented a state of emergency after protests Sunday and Monday nights turned violent.

Some council members said changing the curfew to 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. would help some business owners.

“(They) won’t meet the curfew because you as a working person can’t workout in a gym at 5 in the morning," said city council member Jeff Helgeson.

But once Lynchburg police chief Ryan Zuidema stepped in, relaying information about the last few nights and the good news of a peaceful protest Tuesday, it was clear to some that a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. was reasonable.

“We will continue to follow up on all the actors that were involved in those criminal acts," said Zuidema.

A local business owner stressed safety as the number one concern moving forward.

“This is a compromise. Again, going back to what the chief of police said and the mayor. The most important thing, of course, is the safety of everybody in the community," said Robert Rygielski, owner of Jimmy’s on the James.

Under the new curfew ordinance, the city manager will check in with Zuidema every day at noon on whether or not to extend the curfew.