Fires were set, windows were smashed and 16 people were arrested as demonstrations continued for a second night in Virginia’s capital city of Richmond, police have said.
The protests on Sunday evening followed demonstrations on Saturday night that had been billed by some as support for protesters on the other side of the country in Portland, Oregon.
That city is experiencing ongoing tensions between protesters and US agents at the federal courthouse.
Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said his department saw a flyer calling for demonstrations on Sunday that carried the same tone of “intimidation” and ”wanting to produce fear” that flyers for Saturday night’s protests had contained.
— VA State Police (@VSPPIO) July 26, 2020
Mr Smith said Sunday night’s damage included three fires as well as smashed windows, including one at the police department for Virginia Commonwealth University.
The chief said that the ages of those arrested ranged from 17 to 45. Charges included trespassing, riot with a dangerous weapon and transport of a loaded rifle within city limits.
“The city of Richmond is open and welcomes those who would like to come here in expression of their First Amendment rights,” he said. “However, we have to take action when we know that violence is coming.”
Mr Smith said police took a proactive stance and began making arrests in Monroe Park after 10pm.
The chief said his department is working on identifying groups affiliated with Sunday’s demonstrations. Some individuals from Saturday night have been identified as being from both left-wing and right-wing movements, he said.
On Saturday night, Virginia State Police and Richmond police said they worked to clear a crowd of several hundred demonstrators who had ripped down police tape and moved forward with lasers and firecrackers.
Six men among the protesters were arrested that night and face various charges, including unlawful assembly, rioting with a firearm and assault on a law enforcement officer.
Protesters had been planning Saturday’s demonstration for days. It was called “Richmond Stands with Portland”, news outlets reported, in an apparent reaction to clashes between protesters and US agents at the federal courthouse in Oregon’s largest city.
Weeks of nationwide unrest have struck several US cities since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.