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31 May, 2020 23:43

‘There was a child inside!’ Rioters torched house & blocked firefighters, Richmond police chief says, promising arrests

‘There was a child inside!’ Rioters torched house & blocked firefighters, Richmond police chief says, promising arrests

The head of police in Richmond, Virginia choked up describing how rioters set a building on fire and wouldn’t let a fire truck get to the scene, requiring officers to forcefully intervene to save a child trapped inside.

Peaceful protests in Richmond escalated into violence on Saturday, with a radical mob setting ablaze a police cruiser, a bus and several buildings, including the United Daughters of the Confederacy headquarters. One of their targets was a building in Broad Street, in which there was a child, Richmond Police Chief Will Smith told journalists on Sunday.

“They prohibited us from getting on scene. We had to force our way to make a clear path for the fire department,” he said.

Protesters intercepted that fire apparatus several blocks away with vehicles and blocked [the] fire department’s access [to the burning building]. Inside that building was a child!

At this point, Smith seemed overwhelmed with emotion and had to pause before he could continue. “When you take a legitimate issue and hijack it for unknown reasons, that is unacceptable to me, to [the police department], to the city of Richmond,” he said. “It truly is not Richmond. It’s not even Virginia. It’s not even the mid-Atlantic!”

The police chief blamed the violence in the city on organized outsiders, who “had traveled many states to be here,” saying charges against instigators may be filed soon.

Richmond is among dozens of cities across the US rocked by rioting amid nationwide protests against police brutality. The wave of public outrage was unleashed by the choking to death of black man George Floyd. He was killed while in the custody of the Minneapolis police, after a white officer kneeled on his neck and ignored his pleas to let him breathe.

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