Angela Greene says she was fired for upholding the law. The former Portsmouth Police Chief was placed on administrative leave after her department announced felony charges against leader Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and others alleged to have been involved in damaging the city’s Confederate monument in June. The charges were dropped on November 16, the same day Greene was fired.
In an interview with The Virginia Star, Greene and her attorney Thomas Plofchan told her story.
“As far as my employment with the City of Portsmouth before the monument, it’s always been exemplary. I’ve never had any issues, any concerns, any questions about my leadership, so there’s never been an issue there up until the monument incident,” Greene said.
Greene started her career as a patrol officer in Richmond in 2001; she was eventually promoted to captain. In 2016, the City of Portsmouth hired her as Assistant Chief of Police. Then, in 2019, she was promoted to Chief when Tonya Chapman was ousted.
“There were individuals, political leaders, city officials and other public officials out on June 10 concerning our Confederate monument that we have in the City of Portsmouth that decided to deface and destroy the monument,” Greene said.
After The Protest
“After I exhausted all options of having outside agencies investigate this matter,” Greene said, “it was incumbent on me to allow my team of detectives and supervisors to investigate the matter to find what if any charges could be brought against these individuals that conspired to destroy the monument.”
Greene said her team found probable cause for charges against those involved in the protest. They presented the case to a local magistrate. “The magistrate reviewed the probable cause and agreed that it was sufficient to issue felony arrest warrants for those individuals,” Greene said.
Plofchan said other coverage suggested it was unusual to not go through Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales (D) for the felony charges; however both Plofchan and Greene emphasized that having the magistrate issue the charges was normal for a property crime.
Morales was listed as a witness by the police department, which would have prevented Morales from involvement as prosecutor in the case. In October, a judge denied the subpoena against Morales and ordered the department to share case documents with the prosecutor.
Charges Dropped, Greene Terminated
In September, Greene was placed on administrative leave without explanation at the same time as the arraignment for those charged in the protest. Then, on November 16, Greene was fired. That same day, a court dismissed the charges against Lucas and the others, in response to a Motion to Dismiss filed by Morales’ office.
Greene noted the links between the court case and the days she was placed on leave and then terminated. “I believe that I’m being wrongfully terminated, because I upheld the law, because I performed my sworn duty as the chief of police, and because I believe no one is above the law.”
Plofchan repeatedly emphasized that the key to Greene’s position as Police Chief was her political neutrality.
“One of the things that’s very important about Chief Greene and her position as a police officer is, nobody knows her political persuasion or her political beliefs,” Plofchan said. “As a neutral officer who has sworn to uphold the Constitution, her personal beliefs have no play.”
“I’m a Black female Chief of Police in a position which is race neutral,” Greene said. “Yet I was retaliated against because I refused to treat criminal behavior differently because of the alleged offenders race, creed, gender, or political affiliation.”
As the case moved through the court, Virginia Democrats lionized Lucas, who is Black. Local leaders called for Greene’s termination. Meanwhile, the Portsmouth Tea Party called for Greene to be reinstated, and Republicans statewide have taken the opportunity to criticize Lucas for her involvement in alleged crimes at the June protest. Greene said Portsmouth police officers also support her.
“I’m receiving overwhelming support from one side of the community, but ironically, it’s divided on racial lines,” Greene said, “although I was being colorblind and race-neutral, while enforcing the law, which is the whole premise of racial equality.”
Plofchan noted that some Black community members did support Greene. “But the leaders of those who purport to represent the African-American community, and we don’t know how legitimate that leadership is, that leadership has certainly been hostile to you,” he said.
Greene’s still keeping her opinions about politics and policy under wraps, but she hopes she can use her case to influence Portsmouth for the better. She’s working with Plofchan to pursue a legal claim against the city of Portsmouth for defamation and wrongful discharge.
“[It’s] not just about clearing my name per se, but it’s also about bringing to light a lot of the issues and problems we’ve been seeing around the nation with the political interference during this civil unrest in how law enforcement has been hampered in doing their duties,” Greene said.
“I’m hoping that if we do pursue legal action that it will be for the betterment of the City of Portsmouth’s citizens and police officers as well as law enforcement and communities nationwide,” Greene said. “We cannot allow political leaders and city officials to interfere in law enforcement duties for their own political agenda and self interest.”
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