The police chief of Portsmouth, Virginia, was fired Monday after two months on paid administrative leave following a controversy in which police charged local black leaders — including a state senator — with conspiring to damage a Confederate monument during a protest in June, WAVY-TV reported.
What are the details?
At the June 10 protest in Portsmouth, demonstrators damaged Confederate statues as part of a nationwide wave of racial justice protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death — and one Portsmouth demonstrator was seriously injured after a toppled, beheaded statue fell on his head.
In August, city police charged Democratic state Sen. Louise Lucas — Virginia’s most senior black legislator — and 18 other plaintiffs, including a school board member and members of the local NAACP chapter and the public defender’s office, with conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000, NBC News reported.
Greene, who is black, said Lucas and others “conspired and organized to destroy the monument as well as summon hundreds of people to join in felonious acts,” the network added.
NBC News, citing the police version of events in a probable cause summary, reported that Lucas was with a number of people who were shaking cans of spray paint, and she told police they were going to vandalize the statues “and you can’t stop them … they got a right, go ahead!”
More from WAVY:
We asked Greene whether she would argue there were political and city leaders that wanted the monument to be defaced, to which she nodded her head “yes.” We also asked whether she believed they didn’t want her to pursue charges in connection with the monument vandalism — also a “yes.”
But on Monday, the charges against Lucas and the other black leaders were dismissed.
The Portsmouth Commonwealth Attorney’s Office said there was “no proper evidence” to support the charges that the plaintiffs’ actions “rise to the level of felony destruction of property or conspiracy,” NBC News reported, citing a dismissal motion.
A judge also questioned why police went around local prosecutors to bring charges, the network said, adding that city leaders questioned Greene’s involvement in the Confederate protest investigation due to an unspecified conflict of interest. Local activists and clergy leaders called for her resignation or firing, NBC News added.
The dismissal drew praise from Democrats who condemned the charges, the network said:
JUSTICE IN PORTSMOUTH. Our hero Louise Lucas and her fellow proud Portsmouth citizens deserve our admiration. Grate… https://t.co/eJ71zLlbC3
— Terry McAuliffe (@Terry McAuliffe)1605536240.0
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Lucas’ office could not immediately be reached for comment. The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reported that she said dismissal of the case “gives people hope” that “when they come to these courtrooms that they will be treated in a fair and just manner, even though you may have a rogue police department who intends to criminalize the justice system against people like me.”
WAVY said Greene was placed on leave in September with pay — and then on Monday she was fired. A city spokeswoman declined to tell NBC News if Greene’s firing was connected to the charges filed against Lucas and that other black leaders.
Prior to her firing, which took place during a 15-minute meeting, Greene told the station her hope was for “full reinstatement, because I did nothing wrong.”
After the meeting she confirmed to WAVY that she “was terminated, and I am one less badge and one less gun” — and that she wasn’t given any explanation for her firing or given severance pay. The station said Greene has young children and an elderly parent, and a fund has been set up to help with her expenses.
What happened after the chief’s firing?
Greene held a news conference after the firing and said she’d file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city, WAVY reported.
Former Chief Greene had gun and badge taken. Left office with no job, no income, and a legal defense fund has been… https://t.co/iEHkScz2rs
— Andy Fox (@Andy Fox)1605535678.0
“I believe I was wrongfully terminated for upholding the law and being retaliated against for sticking to my sworn oath that I swore to serve and protect my citizens, community and keeping my officers safe,” she said, according to NBC News.