Posted on November 20, 2020

Virginia Police Chief Fired as Felony Charges Are Dropped in Confederate Vandalism Case

Erik Ortiz, NBC News, November 16, 2020

The police chief of Portsmouth, Virginia, was fired Monday in what she suggested was a politically motivated move moments before criminal charges were dropped against a prominent state senator and several local Black leaders accused of conspiring to damage a Confederate statue during a protest this year.

The latest twist in the case involving state Sen. Louise Lucas, a high-ranking Democrat who is Virginia’s most senior Black legislator, drew praise from members of her own party who condemned the charges.


Portsmouth police in August charged Lucas and 18 other plaintiffs, including a school board member and members of the local NAACP chapter and the public defender’s office, with conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000.


The June 10 protest in Portsmouth, a majority-Black city across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk, came in the wake of national demonstrations against racial injustice calling for the removal of Confederate monuments and other divisive historic structures from public spaces. {snip}

At the Portsmouth protest, demonstrators managed to rip off the heads of some of the city’s Confederate statues while toppling another statue, which police said fell on and critically injured a demonstrator.

When Greene, who is Black, later announced the charges, she said Lucas and others “conspired and organized to destroy the monument as well as summon hundreds of people to join in felonious acts.”

According to the police version of events in a probable cause summary, Lucas was with a group of people who were shaking cans of spray paint, and she told police that they were going to vandalize the statues “and you can’t stop them … they got a right, go ahead!”


On Monday morning, she held up a copy of her termination letter during a news conference.

“I believe I was wrongfully terminated for upholding the law and being retaliated against for sticking to my sworn oath that I swore to serve and protect my citizens, community and keeping my officers safe,” she said.

Greene said city leaders did not provide a reason for her firing other than that she was an “at-will employee.” {snip}