The City of Portsmouth District Court dismissed the felony charges against Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and others charged with damaging the city’s Confederate monument in June, according to The Virginian-Pilot. The Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office asked the court to dismiss the charges, arguing that by not intervening in the vandalism, officers “either explicitly or implicitly misled [the defendants] to believe that such conduct was lawful.”
“[B]ased on the fact that on-scene law-enforcement officers failed to intervene during the defacing of the monument up until hours after the monument was defaced, it is likely that the charged individuals, understood the monument to be effectually abandoned by the City of Portsmouth, and thereby acted under the reasonable belief that city law enforcement officials had given their implicit endorsement to the same effect,” the prosecutors wrote in the dismissal motion.
In June, a protest led to Portsmouth’s monument being damaged. Part of it fell on protestor Chris Green, hospitalizing him for about three months, according to Green’s GoFundMe page. On Monday, an update on Green’s page said he may face years of recovery. “I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted the last update on Chris. Chris is continuing his out patient therapies since graduating from the home health therapies. Chris also had to undergo another surgery to have a piece of his skull put back which was removed to allow his brain to swell during the initial accident and he also recently suffered a seizure.”
After the protest, bodycam footage emerged of former Police Chief Angela Greene and Lucas standing near the monument discussing the ongoing protest. Lucas and Greene disagreed over whether or not then-City Manager Lydia Pettis-Patton had authorized protesters to be inside a fence around the monument.
Greene’s bodycam footage shows protestors entering the fence. “They are inside now, spray-painting the monument,” Greene said on a phone call recorded by her bodycam.
After the protest, Greene’s office asked for state authorities to investigate. When they did not, and after the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney declined to press charges, Greene announced warrants against Lucas and the others for “conspiracy to commit a felony” and “felony injuring to a monument in excess of $1,000.” The charges apparently surprised city officials and triggered a wave of terminations that culminated Monday morning with Greene also being fired, shortly before the court dismissed the Lucas case.
Virginia Democrats rejoiced on Monday. “JUSTICE IN PORTSMOUTH. Our hero Louise Lucas and her fellow proud Portsmouth citizens deserve our admiration. Grateful this despicable political persecution is over,” former Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) said in a Monday tweet.
Republicans have consistently criticized Lucas. In August, former Senator Bill Carrico (R-Grayson) told The Virginia Star, “[Lucas] had to know that going down there and letting people deface the monument and stirring up the crowd and not letting the law enforcement officers do their job had to be something that she couldn’t do,” Carrico said. “We’ve got to hold even lawmakers accountable for things like that. That is anarchy in its worst form.”
On Monday, Carrico told The Star, “With all the video footage and the structure of the law the way it is, I can’t imagine that there was not some kind of agreement that had to be reached in some way, shape, or form for [Lucas] not to be found guilty of that.”
Carrico added, “I don’t know the political atmosphere that transpired with the case, but it’s obvious from the video footage that they had that she was out there and that she was inciting people to do this and that’s illegal in Virginia.”
Lucas’ lawyer did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
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