If you’ve browsed the headlines or Twitter over the last few days, you’ve no doubt been faced with horrific images and video clips of the raging violence in several major American cities that began as peaceful protests against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.
While there have been a host of disturbing incidents, from the brutal beating of innocent people to the death of police officers, this incident has got to be among the most gut-wrenching.
The Daily Wire reports that, on Saturday, Richmond, Virginia Police Chief Will Smith revealed that rioters set fire to a multi-family residence when a child was still inside, proceeding to block firefighters’ access to the scene.
Smith was clearly overcome with emotion as he recounted the incident. Thankfully, the responders found a way to access the fire and were able to save the family and child.
“One incident that is particularly poignant, that truly illustrates the seriousness of the issues we’re facing,” Smith told reporters on Sunday. “Protesters intentionally set a fire to an occupied building on [West] Broad Street. This is not the only occupied building that has been set fire to in the last two days.”
“They prohibited us from getting on scene,” he continued. “We had to force our way to make a clear path for the fire department.”
“Protesters intercepted that fire apparatus several blocks away with vehicles and blocked that fire department’s access to the structure fire,” Smith said. “Inside that home was a child.”
“Officers were able to –,” Smith began, faltering as he was clearly overwhelmed by the recollection of the incident, “help those people out of the house.”
“We were able to get the fire department there safely,” he added.
Chief William C. Smith comments on a challenging situation during last night’s protests in #RVA. You can watch the rest of this @CityRichmondVA press conference here: https://t.co/jvzqcaRA3i pic.twitter.com/LCHrIIAeM2
— Richmond Police (@RichmondPolice) May 31, 2020
Smith made it quite clear that these riots have absolutely nothing to do with Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 10 minutes while he lay handcuffed on the ground.
Peaceful protests have occurred in response to Floyd’s unjust death, but so have criminal riots.
“When you take a legitimate issue and hijack it for unknown reasons, that is unacceptable to me,” Smith firmly declared, “it’s unacceptable to the Richmond Police Department, unacceptable to the city of Richmond.”
It should be unacceptable to every American as well. Right or left, black of white, man, woman, or child, we need to state loud and clear that this is not the way to honor Floyd’s death, nor is it the way to combat racism or injustice!