RICHMOND, VA (WRIC) – Black Lives Matter protesters took to Interstate 95 in downtown Richmond, Virginia Monday afternoon, creating major backups during rush hour.
At roughly 5:45 p.m., a group of nearly 20 protesters briefly occupied all southbound travel lanes at mile marker 76.5 near the Belvidere exit, bringing traffic to a standstill.
According to Virginia State Police spokesperson Steve Vick, troopers arrived on scene and notified the protesters that being on the interstate was an unlawful assembly and advised them to leave.
Officials sad 13 of the protesters refused to exit the interstate and were charged with being pedestrians on a highway and for impeding the flow of traffic. They were placed under arrest and transported to Richmond City Jail.
“13 of those individuals decided not to do that and elected to be arrested it was their choice,” said Deputy Chief Steve Drew.
Deputy Chief Steve Drew with the Richmond Police Department said their biggest concern was public safety for both the protestors and those on the road.
“It’s a big difference when you are blocking a street that we can re-route traffic we can move around but when you’re blocking interstate,” said Dept. Chief Drew.
Troopers remained on scene and allowed traffic to resume at 6:20 after all protesters had left the interstate.
Nikkita Carroll said she wasn’t there when the protest first started, but once she heard about it she said she had to join.
“They’re killing us and that’s not right and I don’t condone people going to kill them either,” said Carrol. “Two wrongs don’t make a right but we just want justice and it needs to be fair and it needs to be equal.”
Organizers for Monday’s interstate demonstration said a group of white and non-black people of color shut down traffic near the Jackson Ward exit to ’emphasize the crisis faced by black trans women and black women in Virginia, especially at the hands of the police.’
Organizers also said in a release statement “non-black Virginians need to recognize that Richmond and Virginia were built by enslaved black laborers, and that systematic violence lives on today in our state’s prisons. With such a crisis at hand, we cannot let business go on as usual.”
For Carroll, seeing the diversity was inspiring.
“America was built on different cultures and different races so I was excited to learn that it was multiple races involved,” said Carroll.