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Police Officer Memorial Statue Removed Amid Rioting

Richmond, VA – A memorial honoring the sacrifices of Richmond police officers who died in the line of duty was removed from a Richmond park on Thursday after it was repeatedly vandalized.

The bronze Richmond Police Memorial, which includes a plaque bearing each of the 39 fallen officers’ names, has stood in Byrd Park since 2016, WTVR reported.

The memorial has recently been vandalized and damaged on four occasions amid nationwide chaos spurred by the in-custody death of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Red paint dripped from the police statue as city crews lifted it from its pedestal on Thursday, WRIC reported.

Workers attempted to clean red paint off of the memorial after it was vandalized on another occasion in early June, but ended up abandoning that effort after they became concerned that the equipment would cause further damage, WWBT reported.

Retired Richmond Police Officer Glenwood Burley, who is also the chairman of the Police Memorial Relocation Committee, said that the memorial has been taken to an undisclosed location to be cleaned and repaired by someone who specializes in bronze statues, according to WTVR.

He called the acts of vandalism “incomprehensible” and “despicable,” WRIC reported.

The 20-year law enforcement veteran said that he served with nine of the officers whose names are engraved on the memorial.

“This memorial is symbolic of sacrifice is very personal for me…I’ve cried more than once over how this statue has been violated,” retired Officer Burley told WTVR. “We needed to get it out of here for its protection.”

He noted that the statue honored all local officers, regardless of their race.

“Our statue was symbolic of sacrifice of black and white officers,” said the retired lawman.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s office said that the monument “will be repaired and restored before it is returned to public display,” WRIC reported.

In addition to the repeated attacks on the police memorial, protesters have also demanded the removal of Virginia’s Confederate monuments.

Rioters in Richmond toppled the statue of Confederate leader Williams Carter Wickham on June 6 and tore down a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis on Wednesday, WWBT reported.

On Tuesday night, rioters at a demonstration supporting indigenous people ripped a 93-year-old Christopher Columbus statue off its pedestal in Byrd Park and tossed it into Fountain Lake, according to WTVR.

Police have not made any arrests in connection with the destruction or vandalism of the memorials, WTVR reported.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam urged rioters during a press conference on Thursday not to remove statues and memorials on their own.

“These statues are very large and very heavy,” Northam said, according to WTVR. “I know these statues are causing a lot of pain, but pulling them down is not worth risking someone’s life. Let the local governments take the responsibility for taking these statues safely.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said the city is working to “legally contract to have the remaining [statues] removed professionally, to prevent any potential harm that could result from attempts to remove them without professional experience,” WTVR reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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