Richmond Police Finally Admit to Tear-Gassing Peaceful Protest, Hope No One Notices.

The department tweeted their retraction just before the holiday weekend.

Richmond confederate monument being removed

ob Karp/Zuma

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On Friday, the Richmond, Virginia, police department sent out an important clarification: Contrary to what it had previously insisted, the protesters they tear-gassed at a Confederate monument in June of 2020 were entirely peaceful.

You may be thinking: Okay, but it is July of 2022, why are they saying all of this now?

The answer, of course, is that the police department was required to issue this incredibly passive-voiced mea culpa under the terms of a settlement arising from a federal lawsuit. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in addition to retracting the claim that officers had only fired tear gas into the crowd because “they were cut off by violent protesters”—the protestors, it turns out, were not violent at all—the city also has to provide video and paper records of the event to the state library:

Once provided by the city and made accessible by the library, the public will be able to watch body-worn footage, hear police radio traffic and read narratives of the officers who were in and around the Lee and J.E.B. Stuart monuments that evening when, unprovoked and without warning, they unleashed chemical irritants on thousands of demonstrators kneeling at the base of Lee with their hands up 20 minutes ahead of an 8 p.m. curfew.

The statues of the two Confederate generals, both of which have been taken down, were located one block apart on the city’s Monument Avenue.

This admission is both a welcome development and a depressingly revealing one. Why should it take two years and a legal settlement to tell the truth to the people you gassed? If there had been no lawsuit, would they have ever retracted the false claim? 

In coming clean about an untrue thing it had not acknowledged for two years, the police department also committed a cardinal sin of social-media posting: They sent out a correction just before 5 pm on the Friday of a holiday weekend: the exact time when most people aren’t paying attention to Twitter. How embarrassing! It’s very silly of them to make that mistake, but to help them out, we’re reposting the full thread, to ensure as many people are able to see it as they so clearly intended:

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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