Names of VA’s murdered or missing trans folks top statement from I-95/64 BLM protestors
Update 11/29: All 13 protestors were sentenced to five days in jail.
13 people go before a Richmond judge today to find out their sentence after blocking of I-95/64 last summer in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The group, made up of locals and folks from further out, have put out a statement via Norfolk activist Jeff Winder which aims to narrow why BLM matters here in Richmond and why they took the steps they did.
“We take this section of interstates 64 and 95 in Richmond as part of our commitment to the call from Black trans communities to honor the missing and murdered, while we also fight like hell for the living,” reads the statement which lists other Black people killed by police in the Commonwealth - India Kager, Kionte Spencer, Angelo Perry, William Chapman Dyzhawn Perkins, and Dominick Wise .
The statement also points to the indigenous people’s land “white and non-black people of color stand on… violently stolen” – the Powhatan, Monacan, Cherokee, and others.
Finally, the group notes the destruction of Jackson Ward in the creation of I-95. What was once called the Harlem of the South was cut in half by the government when they built the interstate highway system, a move seen in many successful communities of color just before the Civil Rights movement took off.
“Non-black Virginians need to recognize that Richmond and Virginia were built by enslaved Black laborers, and that systemic violence lives on today in our state’s prisons,” the statement reads. “With such a crisis at hand, we cannot let business go on as usual. We support the national Black Lives Matter movement’s demands to disarm the police, divest from prisons, and ensure safe and clean housing for Black communities.”
The protest started around 6PM on July 18th. A large group marched from Monroe Park to the Belvidere I-95 ramp and took over both sides of the highway just in time for rush hour traffic. Richmond police and State police responded to complaints though State police handled the arrests. The 13 that were arrested were charged with being pedestrians on a highway and for impeding the flow of traffic.
Below is the full statement via Jeff Wells:
At 1 pm today, 13 people will face sentencing of possible jail time for their arrest during a highway blockade in Richmond last July. Their statement regarding their action is below. I am thinking of them in gratitude today.
“Sage Smith has been missing from her home in Charlottesville, Virginia since November 2012. Less than a year following Sage’s disappearance, Amari Hill was murdered in Richmond. And in January 2015, Lamia Beard was found murdered in Norfolk. As in the rest of the country and the rest of the world, Virginia does too little to love and protect Black trans women from harm. We say their names.
In just the past year alone, India Kager was killed by police in Virginia Beach while she slept in her parked car with her infant in the backseat; Natasha McKenna was murdered while in the custody of police at the Fairfax County jail. We say their names.
During this same time period, Kionte Spencer, Angelo Perry, William Chapman Dyzhawn Perkins, and Dominick Wise were all murdered by police in Roanoke, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Buckingham County, and Culpeper. We say their names.
Today, white and non-black people of color stand on lands violently stolen from the Powhatan, Monacan, Cherokee, and other indigenous peoples, of what is now known as the Commonwealth of Virginia. We take this section of interstates 64 and 95 in Richmond as part of our commitment to the call from Black trans communities to honor the missing and murdered, while we also fight like hell for the living.
Jackson Ward is significant as a historically Black neighborhood, where the construction of the I-64/95 corridor in the 1950s divided the neighborhood in half, to its detriment and impoverishment. Non-black Virginians need to recognize that Richmond and Virginia were built by enslaved Black laborers, and that systemic violence lives on today in our state’s prisons. With such a crisis at hand, we cannot let business go on as usual.
We support the national Black Lives Matter movement’s demands to disarm the police, divest from prisons, and ensure safe and clean housing for Black communities.”
Top image of BLM protest in Richmond in 2014 via timportersd
About 60 protesters showed up in Downtown Richmond this morning to protest an appearance by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. A multitude of groups representing a range of issues offered different, unconnected demonstrations that included chants and speeches hoping to amplify their concerns during the US AG’s visit. Among those in the crowd was the [...]March 15, 2017
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