PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Just two days after Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene announced felony charges against State Senator Louise Lucas and a number of other public officials and community leaders, a committee is calling for her resignation.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Steering Committee held a press conference on Wednesday to address the charges filed against more than a dozen people including Lucas, Portsmouth NAACP President James Boyd, and the chapter's vice president Louie Gibbs.
Police Chief Greene announced the warrants on Monday, claiming that some of the people who were charged organized and plotted the destruction of the Confederate monument in Olde Towne on June 10. A probable cause summary used to secure the warrants against Lucas and the others references conversations that supposedly took place on the day of the protest.
The document suggests that Lucas -- at the very least -- encouraged people to "cover" the monument with spray paint. Despite a "no trespassing" sign, people climbed over the fence around the monument to spray graffiti on it.
Eventually, some people began knocking parts of it off. Portsmouth police say the damage done to it would cost more than $100,000 to repair.
But on Wednesday the steering committee condemned the charges and called on Portsmouth city management and Chief Greene to explain what influenced her decision for the arrests.
They also made three other demands.
They insisted that Portsmouth City Manager Lydia Pettis-Patton request the immediate resignation of Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene. The committee also wants the Virginia State Police to conduct an investigation into the Portsmouth Police Department. Lastly, they called on Commonwealth's Attorney Stephanie Morales to use her influence to dismiss the charges.
The committee's president, Milton Blount, says the group will fight with and for each person who was "singled out unfairly."
Blount quoted his group's namesake, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., during the press conference: "A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
The committee also wants city management and police leadership to describe the response from the Virginia State Police and FBI when they were called to investigate the protest.
NAACP President James Boyd, member Louie Gibbs, and School Board Member LaKeesha Atkinson stood behind the podium. They have two felony charges against them.
Portsmouth Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke -- who is also Senator Lucas' daughter -- said she can't get answers from city officials.
"The city manager knew nothing about it and the city attorney knew nothing about it, and nobody knows nothing about it,” Burke said. “Then who is running the G****** city if nobody knows?"
Burke directed people to her Facebook where she posted an email sent on Wednesday by City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton. Patton writes that two months ago Chief Angela Green "reported a conflict of interest as it related to any investigation of the incidents around the Confederate monument."
Patton also writes, "After learning of Chief Greene’s acknowledgment of conflict, it was my clear understanding that the city’s Police Department under her leadership would end all involvement."
"The city manager is saying that she didn't know about this, that she was blindsided by it,” Burke said. “I said that is even more of a reason to terminate the chief because that is insubordination."
Lucas’ attorney Delegate Don Scott believes the charges are political.
"They issued these warrants the day before the most powerful black woman in the history of Virginia was going into special session,” Scott said.
Burke said her mother will continue her duties in Richmond during this special session.
"She's going in for the criminal justice reform, she's in there for sensible gun control and they want to silence that,” Burke said. “We say not this time."
Lucas’ attorney said everyone is supposed to head to court on September 4, but they hope it never gets to that point. We are told each person on the list turned themselves in and were released on their own recognizance.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Steering Committee is a political action and civil rights organization, according to President Blount.