13 Black Lives Matter protesters arrested after blocking I-95S t

13 Black Lives Matter protesters arrested after blocking I-95S traffic

Source: Robert Goodlatte Source: Robert Goodlatte
Source: Laura Cross Source: Laura Cross

Interstate 95 S is back open after Black Lives Matter protesters blocked off traffic near Belvidere on Monday.

At least a dozen protesters blocked off all southbound lanes around 5:45 p.m. and draped a sign on the overpass.

Several State Police cruisers, as well as Richmond Police and a helicopter, arrived on scene. Lanes reopened around 6:20 p.m.

"It's good for us," said Black Lives Matter supporter Melinda Watkins. "These white folks think they can rule the world. Especially VCU [Police]. They think they own the whole world, but they don't. God owns this world."

However, most of the protesters that stopped traffic on Monday were white. Organizers say it was planned this way. The protest was meant to show white people "putting their lives on the line for black people."

"Anytime you can't walk the street unless you have a cop running up on you then you are not safe," said Watkins. "I don't feel safe. Not with them."

"Yes. It is unfair that people are being stranded from going home, but it's also unfair that African American men are being killed on a daily basis by police officers," said Jameila Grant. "It's unacceptable."

Grant was leaving work and decided to join the protesters.

"I think it should have been done in the morning," said Grant. "Stop people from opening businesses and making money, because when money is being tapped into and it hurts the city, then a difference is going to be made. So absolutely. This is correct." 

Virginia State Police arrested 13 of the protesters at the scene. According to Sergeant Stephan Vick, seven of the protesters were from Virginia, while the rest were from out of state.

State Police say they charged the protesters that refused to get off the Interstate with being pedestrians on a highway and for impeding the flow of traffic.

"Its all about community policing, free speech, and their rights," said Drew. "They know the rules, but we cant have public safety jeopardized."

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones also arrived at the scene. He was concerned about public safety being jeopardized if any emergency vehicles were trying to pass through stopped traffic.

"We respect the right of individuals to protest, however, we draw the line when the activities of life become handicapped. When you block an intersection, you don’t know if people are going to the hospital, or emergency vehicles need to get from place to place. So when that happens, it becomes a problem," said Mayor Jones.

That respect between officers and their community is one reason the Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones believes the river city is keeping calm in such a turbulent time. 

"Richmond is a unique place. We've responded very well. We have good relationships with our police force and our police force has a good relationship with our community," said Mayor Jones.

But he believes there are better ways for your voice to be heard.

"I would participate in several different discussions, trying to process a very difficult time. Not just in Richmond, but the United States of America and the world," said Mayor Jones.

Traffic was backed up several miles throughout the city of Richmond.

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