Virginia eviction protesters pepper-sprayed, window smashed at courthouse


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An anti-eviction protest at the John Marshall Courts Building in Richmond ended with pepper spray and vandalism.

In the early afternoon, protester Malcolm Solomon said some demonstrators attempted to enter the courthouse. He said Richmond City Sheriff’s deputies pinned them down.

MORE: Statewide freeze on evictions expires, new rent relief program begins

“I was amongst the people standing outside of the building requesting that the people who had already entered not be treated like animals and thrown to the ground,” Solomon said.   

Solomon sent 8News a video that he said shows the moment he was pepper-sprayed by deputies at the courthouse door. Several other protesters stood up against the building, screaming at the officers to stop.

Solomon said they were given no explanation. “Just that you can’t enter a public building but it’s a building for the people so I don’t understand that,” he said. “I think they should begin to think of more humane ways to work with the people of the city.”

This comes as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia and faith leaders continue to condemn law enforcement’s use of chemical irritants against civilians.

Other videos on social media show protesters attempting to smash courthouse windows. At least one window is shattered.

The crime scene remains active as the vandalism is being investigated. The John Marshall Courts Building is closed to the public.

The Richmond City Sheriff’s Office has yet to respond to requests for comment.

8News has yet to confirm that any arrests were made.

The crowd arrived at the courthouse around 11 a.m. to protest evictions after a statewide freeze on proceedings expired on Sunday, June 28. Groups like the Richmond Tenants Union and the New Virginia Majority are calling on Gov. Ralph Northam to extend the eviction moratorium using an executive order.

“It doesn’t make any sense to end the moratorium on evictions in the peak of the pandemic,” protester Claire Pickard said. “Eviction is another type of violence against black communities.”

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