A man suffered life-threatening injuries when protesters in Portsmouth, Virginia partially dismantled a Confederate monument on Wednesday night, according to Virginia State Police.
Portsmouth Mayor John L. Rowe, Jr. said Portsmouth Police had done the right thing in confining the vandalism to the one piece of public property, so as to protect lives and the remaining private property in the area.
“We can repair the monument, but an injured body carries that scar for life. We can repair the monument, but we cannot bring back a life - if one was lost because of our escalating the event by the use of force,” the Mayor said.
The mayor added that the city is mourning the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, but people must change as a nation, a state and a city by working together to eliminate all aspects of racism.
The Virginia State Police said that Portsmouth Police Department requested they conduct an investigation into how the man was injured, and any charges will be determined by the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office for the city of Portsmouth.
The mayor’s statement also noted that in 2017, the Portsmouth City Council adopted a resolution to move the Confederate monument to a cemetery as soon as the governing laws permitted its relocation. According to Mayor Rowe, that resolution is still in effect.
The Virginia General Assembly has since passed a bill giving local government the authority and specified the process of moving monuments like the one in Portsmouth. It requires the local governing body to conduct a public hearing on the matter, Mayor Rowe said. A public hearing on the Confederate Monument in Portsmouth has been set for July 28.
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander also addressed the incident in Portsmouth. He issued a statement asking for peaceful protests and safety in his own city, saying “an individual was seriously injured in an attempt to remove a statue in Portsmouth. We are praying for his full recovery and hope that this incident will not be repeated.”
Officials are not naming the person who was injured at this time.