Roanoke activists unite asking for action from city officials

Local News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — On Thursday, community activists gathered at Noel C. Taylor Municipal building in downtown Roanoke to demand action from city leaders exactly two months after the largest Black Lives Matter protest in downtown, whic took place in May. 

Local activists have organized and and outlined a seven-step plan for action.

One step asks for charges to be dropped for William Foreman, the man who faces a felony after allegedly taking down the Robert E. Lee monument illegally.

“No human being was harmed in the tearing down of the statue,” Tatiana Durant, the Lead Organizer for Roanoke activist group No Justice No Peace emphasized.

“The true crime was the statue existing in the first place. No Justice, No Peace preaches being assertive, not aggressive, and non-violent action,” she continued.

Durant recalled the protests in May.

“May 30th proves that our justice system protects property, not people.”

Bernadette Lark, another community activist spoke about her experience that day.

“We were impeded from standing on the sidewalk. Even after getting permission twice, we still were blocked, so it was a set up intentional to violently respond to any group that says Black Lives Matter.” 

Durant continued, “We were also threatened with tear gas and witnessed the whole line of Roanoke City police officers getting their gas masks on even though they weren’t wearing regular masks to respect people during the pandemic, even though most of the 300 marchers were wearing masks that day.” 

On May 30, families and neighbors united to march in downtown Roanoke in response to police brutality nation-wide, as well as the murder of George Floyd. They were met by police in riot gear and barricades.  

More protests have occurred since May, but those still protesting weekly in downtown Roanoke say city officials are not taking action. 

Activists and organizers say they will be holding an event in Melrose Park at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8 to have an open discussion with the community about police relations in schools.

WFXR News reached out to Roanoke city officials to ask what will happen with the Robert E. Lee monument. Officials responded:

“City administration has met with these groups and will continue to have ongoing conversations with them as needed. We do not have plans to take any action regarding the Lee Memorial monument until after the public hearing and a final decision has been reached.”

Roanoke City Police responded about the event, saying:

“We were not aware that No Justice, No Peace was having a press conference today, but it is their right to peacefully demonstrate for their beliefs and we fully support that right. Chief is also glad he’s been able to meet with the organizer of No Justice, No Peace and have an open, honest dialogue. He hopes they can continue to have those meaningful conversations.”

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