Richmond, VA– I recently spent 16 days in occupation of Kanawha Plaza–a public park in the middle of Richmond, Virginia’s financial district–in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests. We were camped out in front of and on top of the Federal Reserve (two-thirds of that bitch is underground), and we were also next to several major banks and lobbying firms.
At about 1am on Halloween morning, the Richmond Police Department set up barricades at the major adjacent intersections and subsequently raided our camp, giving us less than an hour to clear out what had taken us over two weeks to bring in. They demolished the rest of our belongings with bulldozers. I don’t have an exact number of present police officers. I’ve heard as many as 175, and I would guess myself that it was definitely over 100.
As stated on the Occupy Richmond website, “Twelve occupiers were arrested. Five were denied bond in an unprecedented and needlessly punitive measure by the City of Richmond.”
The day after (or “of”) the raid was filled with energy. Occupiers poured into the main court of the local Virginia Commonwealth University with a barrage of info for students about what had happened earlier that morning. General Assemblies following the raid have been filled with new faces, as we have found a new source of momentum (as if we needed it).
The primary topics at the meetings have been on how to re-group, how to help the dozens of homeless people that the city has yet again displaced, and where we are going to occupy next.
I’ll leave you with another excerpt from Occupy Richmond’s official response to the raid:
“We wish to make plainly clear our desire to fully exercise our First Amendment right guaranteed by the United States Constitution to gather peacefully and to express ourselves, in spite of the police, in spite of the bulldozers, in spite of our fellow occupiers needlessly held without bond, and in spite of the broken promises made by the City of Richmond.”
More to come. Please stay tuned to ATF.