Following the extra-judicial killing of a black man named George Floyd by a white police officer in USA, angry ‘protestors’ hit the streets to demonstrate, loot, arson, riot and vandalise properties. On Sunday, the Chief of Richmond Police, William C. Smith, talked about one such incident wherein rioters intentionally set an occupied building, with a child inside, on fire in Broadway street in Richmond city, Virginia.
He claimed that the cops were restricted from getting to the crime scene and had to force their way to provide a clear path for the Fire Department trucks. Smith alleged that the ‘protestors’ tried to block the rescue trucks with vehicles and hinder the evacuation process. Overpowered by the harrowing experience, he remarked, “Inside that home was a child. Officers were able to help those people out of the house. We were able to get the fire department there safely. This is unacceptable to me.. to the police department and to the city of Richmond.”
Chief William C. Smith comments on a challenging situation during last night’s protests in #RVA. You can watch the rest of this @CityRichmondVA press conference here: https://t.co/jvzqcaRA3i pic.twitter.com/LCHrIIAeM2— Richmond Police (@RichmondPolice) May 31, 2020
Contradictory claims by Fire Department
According to US-based fact-checking website Snopes, a Richmond Fire Lieutenant named Christopher Armstrong has provided a contradictory version of the said incident. In an email reply, Armstrong reiterated that the incident took place on North Monroe Street and not Broadway street as stated by Richmond Police Chief.
He claimed that the house was not set on fire but instead a car fire spread to the building. He claimed that the occupants were unharmed, safe, and outside their house by the time fire trucks had reached the location. Armstrong said that the rescue vehicles were not stopped by protestors but instead by burning trash cans. He stated that the occupants were outside of the house.
The Fire Lieutenant said that a protestor tried to stop the fire truck after it was already stopped. Few other protestors joined him and they hurled objects at the truck. The miscreants then evaded the scene when Richmond police officers reached the location. On being asked about the contradictory statements by the Fire Department and the Richmond police Department, the cops said, “We don’t have details on the fire rescue – everyone is extremely busy with on-going protests.”
The Killing of George Floyd
On May 25, a 46-year-old African-American man, George Floyd was reportedly murdered by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the former’s neck for 7 long minutes until his body became unresponsive. A shopkeeper had called the cops on Floyd for allegedly trying to pass a ‘potential counterfeit bill’. Despite the victim complaining about not being able to breathe, coupled with verbal protest from onlookers, the said officer was unmoved. On being taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center, Floyd was pronounced dead.
Riots in the United States
After Floyd’s death, violent protests have broken out in several US cities. Frenzied mobs had set the 3rd precinct offices of the police in Minneapolis on fire. On Friday night, US President Donald Trump was reportedly escorted to a special bunker after the violent protests had spread to outside of the White House in Washington, DC. Protestors had gathered outside the Presidential Estate on Friday night and clashes took place between the rioters and the President’s Secret Service. On Saturday, rioters had also desecrated the 142-year old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan in New York, fin the aftermath of the George Floyd Case. Shops have been looted, vehicles have been burned and businesses have been attacked in the violent frenzy rapidly gripping the entire nation.