State senator charged with ‘injury’ to Confederate monument; attorney calls charges a ‘political stunt'

State senator charged with ‘injury’ to Confederate monument; attorney calls charges a ‘political stunt'
Sen. Louise Lucas (Source: Virginia General Assembly)

RICHMOND (WWBT/AP) -- Authorities say a Virginia state senator has been charged with two felonies for her alleged involvement in the damaging of a large Confederate monument during protests in the city of Portsmouth

Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and several members of the NAACP are charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and felony injury to a monument after a Confederate statue was pulled down, just before falling on someone in the crowd.

Del. Don Scott (D-Portsmouth) is Lucas’ attorney and calls this entire ordeal a “political stunt” coming a day before the lawmaker is set to be at the state capitol for a special session.

The Portsmouth police chief said Monday, there's a reason for those charges.

The monument consists of a large obelisk and statues of four Confederate military personnel. Back in June, statues were beheaded and then pulled down. That’s when one fell on a man in the crowd.

“Of all the incidents that occurred across our nation, our incident was the only incident that resulted in a man being gravely injured,” Chief Angela Greene said.

Greene says Senator Louise Lucas played a role in organizing the destructive demonstration and rallied hundreds to be there.

“Look at the timing. It’s a cheap political stunt to garner something the day before special session at a time when we’re moving forward with criminal justice reform,” Scott said.

NBC12 asked what her involvement was that night.

“What she did was come out to protect some members of the NAACP who had been wrongfully arrested. She came out and said what any citizen, not as her status as a senator, but she came out and said ‘ya’ll can’t arrest people for peacefully protesting’,” Scott said.

The criminal charges brought strong sentiments from the governor and Mayor of Richmond.

Governor Ralph Northam tweeted, “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.”

Mayor Levar Stoney also tweeted by saying, “As the late John Lewis would say, “good trouble”. Senator Lucas is a titan in the General Assembly and a fierce advocate for progress.”

“They’re pulling these old political tricks and stunts that they’ve done before but not this time. It will not work this time…She will do the things that she needs to do to fight these charges and clear her name. She is 100% innocent. She will be 100% vindicated and these people again will look like the fools that they are,” Scott said.

Monday, the Republican Party of Virginia called on the senator to turn herself in, adding that felony charges against a senator should be taken seriously. The Legislative Black Caucus responded calling the charges suspicious and baseless.

Police say others face charges, including members of the local NAACP chapter, a local school board member and members of the public defender’s office. Sources say some of the protesters that were also charged have since been released.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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