Richmond Police Finally Admit to Tear-Gassing Peaceful Protest, Hope No One Notices.

The department tweeted their retraction just before the holiday weekend.

Richmond confederate monument being removed

ob Karp/Zuma

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On Friday, the Richmond, Virginia, police department sent out an important clarification: Contrary to what it had previously insisted, the protesters they tear-gassed at a Confederate monument in June of 2020 were entirely peaceful.

You may be thinking: Okay, but it is July of 2022, why are they saying all of this now?

The answer, of course, is that the police department was required to issue this incredibly passive-voiced mea culpa under the terms of a settlement arising from a federal lawsuit. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in addition to retracting the claim that officers had only fired tear gas into the crowd because “they were cut off by violent protesters”—the protestors, it turns out, were not violent at all—the city also has to provide video and paper records of the event to the state library:

Once provided by the city and made accessible by the library, the public will be able to watch body-worn footage, hear police radio traffic and read narratives of the officers who were in and around the Lee and J.E.B. Stuart monuments that evening when, unprovoked and without warning, they unleashed chemical irritants on thousands of demonstrators kneeling at the base of Lee with their hands up 20 minutes ahead of an 8 p.m. curfew.

The statues of the two Confederate generals, both of which have been taken down, were located one block apart on the city’s Monument Avenue.

This admission is both a welcome development and a depressingly revealing one. Why should it take two years and a legal settlement to tell the truth to the people you gassed? If there had been no lawsuit, would they have ever retracted the false claim? 

In coming clean about an untrue thing it had not acknowledged for two years, the police department also committed a cardinal sin of social-media posting: They sent out a correction just before 5 pm on the Friday of a holiday weekend: the exact time when most people aren’t paying attention to Twitter. How embarrassing! It’s very silly of them to make that mistake, but to help them out, we’re reposting the full thread, to ensure as many people are able to see it as they so clearly intended:

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TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

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