CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Hundreds of people spent hours protesting in Charlottesville’s streets to demand reductions in funding for several police departments.
“I’m proud," Co-Organizer Althea Laughon-Worrell said. "I’m proud of these people for coming out here because it is gray, it is stormy, and it has been dangerous at these protests all around the nation.”
The Police Block Party and Noise Demo got underway outside the John Paul Jones Arena around 6:15 p.m. Saturday, June 13, before turning into a march down Emmet Street, and blocking an intersection for more than an hour. People chanted and brought all kinds of noise makers to draw attention to their call to defund the Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and University of Virginia police departments.
“They are doing nothing to help the black and brown community," Laughon-Worrell said.
She says the odds have been stacked against them from the beginning, meaning the entire broken system needs to be uprooted.
NBC29 was on Facebook Live for most of Saturday’s demonstration. Click the box below to watch, though please be aware that we have not censored the audio or video.
All participants were asked to wear masks and to practice social distancing during the demonstration to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
The rally began to move beyond the arena’s parking lot around 6:30 p.m. Chants of “no justice, no peace,” and “Black Lives Matter,” could be heard as protesters marched to Emmet Street, going towards Barracks Road.
Police helped to direct traffic as hundreds of protesters crowded the northbound lanes of Emmet St. The protesters then briefly switched to the southbound lanes when they were near the Barracks Road Shopping Center. They then blocked the intersection of Emmet St. and Barracks Road to give speeches, engage in chanting, and dancing.
The Charlottesville Police Department tweeted a warning out to drivers a little after 7 p.m., asking them to avoid the area. Trucks with the city’s public works department were also used to help block traffic to protest protesters.
The intersection remained blocked by protesters until around 8:45 p.m., at which point they began to march back up Emmet Street to the John Paul Jones Arena.
Charlottesville police tweeted at 9:11 p.m. that the intersection of Emmet Street and Barracks Road had been reopened to traffic.
Organizers have stated that they want to see some of the money for police departments be diverted to programs and organizations like Region Ten, the Charlottesville Free Clinic, the Rent and Tax Relief program, affordable housing efforts, neighborhood development services, and education.
“There is no good reason why the police should have more money than our educators,” Laughon-Worrell added, citing that many teachers in the Charlottesville area have to use their own money to purchase supplies.