From protests, to votes and everything in between 2020 and now in Richmond and the world over, there have been changes like no other in recent years. George Floyd’s death brought out a clear picture of a rejected and dejected Black American populace still yearning for equality, respect and recognition years after liberation from slavery. With change reckoning, here is a journey of the events that have played indicating light at the end of the tunnel in Richmond and beyond.
May 25: George Floyd dies in police custody in Minneapolis. The publicized “I can’t breathe” video records Floyd’s murder and posted on social media by an eyewitness stirs riots against police cruelty in Richmond and around the world.
May 27: Police in Minneapolis Police Station use rubber bullets, concussion grenades and tear gas to control protestors from looting a nearby Target store. Getting closer to the station, they chant, “No justice, no peace, I can’t breathe!”
May 28: Tim Walz (D), Minnesota Governor prompts the National Guard.
May 29: This day marked the first evening of protests in Richmond.
The police officer, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes prompting his death, is charged with third-degree murder.
The White House was shut following a spread in protests to Washington D.C., Atlanta, andNew York City.
President Donald Trump (R) snubbed questions on Floyd as he addressed a news conference in China.
May 31: More protests leading to lootings and arson of the United Daughters of the Confederacy building along Richmond’s Monument Avenue witnessed across the country while a truck drives into protesters in Minneapolis.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announces a dusk to dawn curfew.
June 1: Non-violent protestors in Richmond are teargassed by police at the Robert E. Lee monument moments before the mandatory 8 p.m. curfew.
Protests over racial injustice spread to other cities abroad, including Amsterdam, Nairobi
June 2: Answers are demanded from Stoney over Richmond police’s use of tear gas on peaceful demonstrators the previous night as they marched to City Hall.
June 3: Va. Governor Ralph Northam(D) announces plans to eliminate the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Monument Avenue in Richmond. Stoney also announces the planned removal of the other four Confederate sculptures along Monument
June 4: Police in Buffalo, New York, are suspended for shoving Martin Gugino, 75, to the ground, leading to head injuries and hospitalization for 4 weeks after a confrontation.
June 5: Washington D.C.’s mayor paints “Black Lives Matter” on the street heading to the White House.
NFL league Commissioner Roger Goodell accuses the federation for not heeding to players protesting concerns on racism and police brutality.
June 7: Edward Coloston, a West African slave-traders statue, is toppled in Bristol, UK. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) joins evangelical Christians March against racism. A man drives into a group of protesters, shoots and injures a demonstrator.
June 8: Thousands of mourners are drawn to Floyd’s casket displayed in Houston. The Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, meets with Floyd’s family.
A temporary injunction is issued by the Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley Cavedo blocking removal of the Lee statue.
The judge who resides in the Monument Avenue Historic District later excuses himself from any cases related to the statue.
Congressional Democrats kneel in the Capitol building as they introduce police reform legislation.
Seattle police abandon an area located in the Capital Hill district as activists rename the community the Capital Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) area.
June 9: George Floyd’s remains are laid to rest in Houston.
June 10: A week after municipality administrators promised to remove all of the Lost Cause iconography along Richmond’s Monument Avenue, the Confederate President Jefferson
Davis’s bronze statue was pulled down by protesters amidst hails and chants from the crowds.
June 12: The police department is replaced with a community-led public safety system in changes initiated by the Minneapolis City Council.
In Atlanta, Rayshard Brooks, an African American man, is murdered by a police officer after falling asleep in a Wendy’s restaurant drive-through lane.
June 13: Protesters burn down the Wendy’s where Brooks was executed.
Unrest spreads abroad as anti-racist demonstrators and counter-protesters conflict in London.
June 14: A Richmond police SUV drives through a protesting crowd who attempted to block its path around Lee Circle, the site of the Lee statue.
Hundreds protest outside RPD headquarters on Grace Street the following night prompting a woman’s arrest.
June 16 : Maj. William Blackwell is appointed the interim chief of Richmond Police as Chief William Smith is forced to vacate office by Stoney amidst the city’s protests and social unrest.
June 18: An indefinite injunction blocking Richmond from removing the Lee statue is passed
by a judge.
June 19: Over 500 people gather at the Lee statue for a peaceful demonstration and to commemorate Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the liberation of enslaved people in the
Colorado strips police officers of qualified immunity.
June 20: A rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where an estimated 300 Blacks were murdered by white residents 99 years ago is held by Trump but fail to attract the expected crowd.
June 23: A police officer involved in the shooting and death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed in Louisville, Kentucky when drug investigators burst into her home, is fired.
Rayshard Brooks funeral in Atlanta proceeds as Natalie White is jailed for setting Wendy’s restaurant on fire.
June 24: A Republican bill aimed at police reforms fails in the U.S. Senate. This was after activist groups, civil rights leaders and Senate Democrats dubbed it irreversibly flawed.
June 26: The interim Richmond police chief, Blackwel, l steps down from his post hours after appointment.
Stoney then announces Gerald Smith, Charlotte, N.C ‘s deputy police chief, to
cover the position.
Richmond takes down the 1919 statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson under emergency authority.
A new law on universal background checks for gun purchases takes effect in Virginia.
July 2: The Matthew Fontaine Maury statue in Richmond, unveiled in 1929, on Monument Avenue at the intersection of Belmont Avenues removal begins.
July 7: The J.E.B. Stuart statue in Richmond, erected in 1907, is removed from Monument Avenue at the intersection of Lombardy Street.
July 8: The tall figure dated back to 1894, atop the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors
monument at Libby Hill Park in Richmond is removed.
The remaining components of Richmond’s Jefferson Davis statue along Monument Avenue are also removed.
July 13: The Washington Redskins announce the adoption of a new name, Washington Football Team, on an interim basis as their name and change of their logo. The football franchise cited facing growing criticism of its long-time Native American name.
July 14: The Hanover County School board vote to rename two schools that honor Confederates, Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
July 23: A statue of Lee and seven busts representing Confederate rulers are withdrawn from the state Capitol of the Old House Chamber. A state panel also recommends replacing Virginia’s statue of Lee in the U.S. Capitol.
July 26: Demonstrations lead to 24 arrests, and destruction to several businesses, VCU properties, and the burning of a city trash truck outside Richmond police headquarters.
Aug. 3: The Richmond City Council votes unanimously to accept offers for the removal of Confederate statues in storage.
Aug. 6: An unpredicted report from the Office of the Inspector General reveals a violation of the states law and policies by the Virginia Parole Board and its former chairperson. A decision in 1980 to grant Vincent Lamont Martin, parole from a life sentence to life in prison for killing a Richmond police officer was realized by three GOP congressmen.
Aug. 11: The first Black woman and first Asian American to run for U.S. vice president, Sen. Kamala Harris from California is chosen by Biden to be his running mate.
Aug. 31: Technical changes to learning standards related to Black history are suggested in Virginia. The state panel recommended the exploration of broader changes during a formal
standards review process.
Sept. 8: The City Council of Richmond votes unanimously to recognize a gun ban on public property during events and riots.
Sept. 18: Virginia Commonwealth University board of visitors passes a vote to revoke Confederate symbols and names from campus.
Sept. 29: An announcement by the Hanover School Board discloses new names for two schools formerly named after Confederates: the former Lee-Davis High School is changed to Mechanicsville, while the former Stonewall Jackson Middle School is now Bell Creek.
Oct. 5: Two Richmond police detectives are accused of assault. The charges arose from the tension on the turbulent nights of May 30 and 31 outside police headquarters.
Oct. 26: Virginia Military Institute’s boss, Gen. Binford Peay III, steps down after nationwide reports of racism in the organization. Northam endorsed investigations on the institution’s
policies and culture.
Gerald Smith, Richmond Police Chief establishes an External Advisory Committee to help improve associations between his department and the people.
Oct. 27: W. Reilly Marchant, Richmond Circuit Court Judge gives a ruling ordering removal of the Lee monument. He argued that keeping it in place would contradict the established public policy.
Oct. 28: As a step forward in rebuilding trust between law enforcement agencies and the community, Northam signs police and criminal justice reforms into law.
Nov. 3: The U.S. votes with about 5.97M having voted before Election Day.
In Virginia election results, Biden( D) beats Trump (R) and Warner (D) defeats Daniel Gade (R). Abigail Spanberger (D) edges Nick Freitas (R) to win in the 7th District. Stoney (D) wins a second term, and Virginian’s 74.6% turnout easily sets up a new redistricting commission by
approving a constitutional amendment.
Nov. 7: Donald Trump refuses to concede as the Associated Press calls the presidential race for Biden.
Virginia lawmakers set aside $1 million for investigations of alleged discriminatory policies at Virginia Military Institute, with the support of Tommy Norment, one of the school’s powerful graduates in Congress and Senate Minority Leader.
In November, the military college names Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins as its interim chief, making him the first Black to hold the highest leadership position at the country’s oldest state-supported institution.
Nov. 16: Due to a report showing racial disparities in how current laws are enforced in the state, Northam publicly backs the legislature’s oversight arms efforts to legalize recreational
marijuana. If passed, Virginia would join 15 other states to legalize the use of recreational marijuana being a first in the South.
Nov. 23: As the state prepares to legalize recreational marijuana, Green Leaf Medical of Virginia becomes Richmond’s first medical marijuana dispensary to open its doors to the public.
Nov. 24: A 38-member task force commissioned with public safety by Richmond’s mayor give their final 15 recommendations. They include, developing a new communication
system redirecting non-criminal calls from the police to the relevant agencies, and establishing a new city office for restorative justice and community program.
Dec. 7: Amid an in-campus tally on systematic racism, the Stonewall Jackson statue is removed from Virginia Military Institute.
Although Trump refuses to concede, Biden is voted in as the next president with 306 electoral votes.
Dec. 16: Teenage civil rights heroine, Barbara Johns, is recommended by a state panel for a statue to replace that of Robert E. Lee in the U.S. Capitol.
Feb. 10: Racial-justice concerns dominate the Road to Richmond event between
Northam with other elected state officials and William & Mary students conducted virtually for the first time.
July 26: Richmond City Council takes up the resolution to declare racism a public health crisis.
An anti-racism car rally is led by the Richmond Multicultural Community Services (RMCS).
Sep. 2: The Virginia Supreme Court clears the way for Richmond to remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Monument Avenue.
Sep. 8: The dominating statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, seen as a symbol of racial injustice, is taken down. This was the last standing Confederate monument along Richmond’s Monument Avenue.
Since the murder of Floyd in May 2020, the city of Richmond, the former Confederacy capital has brought down over a dozen other pieces of Confederate monuments and figures on city land, a trend on going in other cities across the country.
What is next in the fight for racial justice?