Democratic Virginia state Sen. Louise Lucas has been charged with two felonies in connection with a June 10 incident at Portsmouth’s Confederate monument.
Lucas is being charged with injury to a monument in excess of $1,000 and conspiracy to commit a felony, WAVY-TV reported.
Portsmouth officials announced the charges Monday afternoon in the midst of an ongoing investigation after the Confederate monument was vandalized and broken apart by violent protesters in June.
The protest was one of many that were sparked across the country following George Floyd’s death on May 25 in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for roughly nine minutes during an arrest.
— Mark Kurtz (@MarkKurtzWAVY) June 11, 2020
Although officials did not specifically say what Lucas allegedly did to warrant the charges, body camera footage from June 10 shows Lucas telling police that protesters were going to paint the statue.
“I’m not telling them to do anything. I’m telling you you can’t arrest them,” she told police.
Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, a Democrat, told The Washington Post that Lucas left the scene of the protest hours before the statue came down.
After the incident, a local attorney started a petition to recall Lucas, and she in turn filed a $20 million defamation lawsuit against that lawyer.
Lucas’ attorney, Don Scott, said they will fight the charges.
“Consequently they’re doing what they always do which is they weaponize the criminal justice system against black leadership and that’s what they’re doing this time,” Scott said.
“We’re going to fight it vehemently, we’re going to fight it vigorously.”
Many politicians posted on social media after the charges were announced.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the charges were “highly unusual.”
“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,” he tweeted.
“@SenLouiseLucas, I look forward to seeing you in Richmond tomorrow — so we can get to work.”
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.@SenLouiseLucas, I look forward to seeing you in Richmond tomorrow—so we can get to work. https://t.co/flI9W5HnYH
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) August 17, 2020
Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Rich Anderson said Lucas should turn herself in.
“Felony charges leveled against a sitting state senator are to be taken seriously, and should not be sought out for political gain,” he said in a statement.
“It is for that reason that the Republican Party of Virginia calls for Senator Lucas to turn herself in. Immediately.”
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