The police chief and mayor of Richmond, Virginia suspect that white supremacists posing as protesters infiltrated a Black Lives Matter rally over the weekend and incited destruction and violence. According to local CBS News affiliate WTVR, the march was organized near the Richmond Police Headquarters and was designed to show solidarity with anti-police brutality protests in Portland, Oregon.
Speaking during a press conference, Police Chief Gerald Smith said the department had identified some of the members of the group who caused property destruction as Antifa supporters and members of the Boogaloo Boys — a far-right extremist group.
“We have identified some individuals who have been seen with the Boogaloo Boys and some Antifa groups around the area,” Smith said. “The majority of those individuals who were there last night were Caucasian and some of the individuals that we encountered were from outside of Richmond, Virginia, and some of the surrounding area.”
According to Smith, an online flyer calling for violence during the event was created by an individual outside of Richmond.
“We know that the origin of the flyer came from outside of Richmond,” he explained. “There are some people who are still inside some of these organizations that will still give us information and that’s how we know it came from outside of Richmond.”
During the conference, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said that white supremacists had attempted to undermine Black Lives Matter activists’ month-long peaceful demonstrations by destroying property and tagging houses with “hateful language.” Stoney assured the public that the police department is working to identify these individuals and hold them accountable.
“We saw some violent actions, violent protests, spearheaded by white supremacists — and frankly, it was disgusting,” Stoney said. “As they held plywood shields that read “BLM,” these folks toured areas of damage downtown, The Fan, breaking windows, tagging private property with hateful language.”
Stoney revealed that Black Lives Matter activists had helped officials identify some of the agitators and thanked them for what he called “24 consecutive days of peaceful protests.”
“As I began with, I want to send a thanks to the BLM protesters on the ground who decried the white supremacists once they were identified,” he said. “I’m thankful to you for drawing the line and sticking up not just for the sanctity of your movement, but also the safety of your fellow Richmonders that you marched alongside as well.”