Virginia Sen. Louise Lucas Cleared of Charges of Conspiring to Topple Confederate MonumentBreaking News
tags: memorials, statues, Confederacy, Virginia, Black lives matter, Protest
Virginia Sen. L. Louise Lucas was cleared Monday of felony charges alleging that she helped conspire to topple a Confederate monument in the city of Portsmouth during a summer protest over police brutality and racial inequity.
In a court filing, the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales (D) said police failed to show any evidence that a felony had been committed.
But the tensions surrounding the since-removed monument continued to simmer Monday, with the Portsmouth police chief who brought the criminal charges claiming that she had been fired in reprisal, and Lucas (D-Portsmouth) calling the case an attempt to “bring down” Black leadership in the coastal city of 94,000 residents.
Then-Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene pursued the charges against Lucas and 18 co-defendants in August, citing their alleged actions at demonstrations near the monument on June 10, in the heated days after the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
Lucas, the first Black woman to serve as president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate, was part of a crowd gathered at the 35-foot granite obelisk ringed by four statues, erected to honor slain Confederate soldiers from Portsmouth and surrounding Norfolk County. Video taken by police shows Lucas telling officers they could not arrest the demonstrators, who she said were about to paint the monument.
In the video, Lucas suggested that then-City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton would back up her claim.
Greene announced the warrants for Lucas and her co-defendants — including three local public defenders, a local school board member and the president of the Portsmouth NAACP — the day before the senator joined other lawmakers in Richmond for a special session of the General Assembly.
The charges drew outrage from Lucas’s political allies, who called the accusations payback for the veteran legislator’s work to rein in police abuses.
The Confederate monument was taken down by the city and cleared away last month.
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