Virginia police retract ‘false’ 2020 tweet about teargassing protesters near Confederate statue

In a series of tweets, the Richmond Police Department acknowledged the initial June 1, 2020 tweet was “false” and had to be retracted. 

“There were no RPD officers cut off by violent protesters at the Lee Monument,” the department said. “There was no need for gas at Lee Monument to get RPD officers to safety.”

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The incident occurred days after George Floyd died while in Minneapolis police custody, which spurred massive nationwide protests aimed at law enforcement and confederate monuments as criminal and social justice advocates took to the streets. 

On June 1, 2020, Richmond police officers used tear gas against a crowd of peaceful demonstrators near the Lee monument. At the time, the department said there were multiple demonstrations, not all of which were peaceful. 

This resulted in confusion, authorities said. 

The tweet in question read: “To our peaceful protestors: We are sorry we had to deploy gas near the Lee Monument. Some RPD officers in that area were cut off by violent protestors. The gas was necessary to get them to safety.”

The department went on to explain its retraction. 

“It does appear, at the time tear gas was initially dispersed at the Lee Monument, that the crowd was peaceful,” one police tweet read.

Fox News has reached out to the attorney for the demonstrators. 

A large group of protesters gather on June 2, 2020 around the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue near downtown in Richmond, Va. Virginia Gov. The Richmond Police Department on Friday retracted tweet about its response to demonstrations around the statue on June 1, 2020.

A large group of protesters gather on June 2, 2020 around the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue near downtown in Richmond, Va. Virginia Gov. The Richmond Police Department on Friday retracted tweet about its response to demonstrations around the statue on June 1, 2020. (AP)

The police response to the protest generated criticism from local officials, including Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who requested Police Chief Will Smith resign. Smith eventually stepped down.

  

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