Aug 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Virginia Sen. Louise Lucas faces felony charges over monument protest

Louise Lucas (C), member of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, listens to the proceedings on the Senate floor at the Virginia State Capitol, February 7, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia.

Louise Lucas (C), a longtime member of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, in the Senate at the Virginia State Capitol, in 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) spoke out Monday evening after state Sen. Louise Lucas was charged with damaging a Confederate monument during a Portsmouth protest.

Why it matters: The veteran Black senator's charges of conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument "in excess of $1,000" over the protest come as dozens of Confederate symbols are being removed, relocated or renamed across the U.S. in response to anti-racism protests in the wake of George Floyd's death in May.

"[S]everal individuals conspired and organized to destroy the monument as well as summon hundreds of people to join in felonious acts."
Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene

Driving the news: Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene told a news briefing earlier Monday Lucas was among several people including local NAACP leaders facing charges over the June 10 protest that caused "hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the monument" and "permanent injury to an individual."

What they're saying: "It's deeply troubling that on the verge of Virginia passing long-overdue police reform, the first Black woman to serve as our Senate Pro Tempore is suddenly facing highly unusual charges," Northam tweeted Monday evening.

  • Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe tweeted, "Louise Lucas is a trailblazing public servant who isn’t afraid to do and say what she believes is right. Her opposition to a racist monument is the definition of what John Lewis called 'good trouble.' I stand with my good friend."
  • ACLU of Virginia's executive director Claire Gastañaga told AP the charges were "political" and "discriminatory," noting Virginia is "one of the few states" where a felony warrant can be filed without the approval of a prosecutor.
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