State Sen. L. Louise Lucas appeared in Portsmouth General District Court Friday morning for her arraignment on two felony charges — conspiracy and “injuring” the city’s Confederate monument during a June 10 protest.
No judge was present when Lucas received her next court date of Sept. 17, and according to her attorney, General Assembly Delegate Don Scott, one has not yet been appointed to the case. Sept. 17, he explained during a brief press conference afterward, is what is known as a “control date,” meaning Lucas and her defense team won’t necessarily be back in court in person that day but should know the schedule of upcoming dates for pretrial motions by then.
An entourage of supporters accompanied Lucas into the courthouse, while others waited outside. Among them was Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
“I’m here today in support of Sen. Louise Lucas and the ‘Portsmouth 19,’” Fairfax said, referring to the now 19 individuals Portsmouth Police have charged in connection with damage done to the monument on June 10.
Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene initially announced felony charges against 14 people on Aug. 17, among them Lucas, the president and vice president of Portsmouth’s NAACP, a Portsmouth School Board member, attorneys with the city’s public defender’s office and other protesters. On Aug. 31, Portsmouth Police announced they had charged five additional defendants.
The night of the incident, protesters beheaded four Confederate soldier statues attached to the monument and caused one to fall on a man. Several hours before this, just before protesters began spray-painting the monument, Lucas had been captured on camera saying to Portsmouth Police officers, “They’re going to put some paint on this thing, and y’all cannot arrest them.” The senator, however, denies having outright told protesters to do anything illegal.
“We have Louise’s back, we have the back of the entire Portsmouth 19, we have the back of the vice mayor here in Portsmouth who has done a phenomenal job,” Fairfax added. “We need everyone to cry out for justice so that this wrong is righted.”
“It’s amazing,” Lucas said of her supporters. “It’s absolutely amazing. This is what happens when people know right from wrong.”
Scott expressed confidence in the eventual outcome of Lucas’ case.
“We know that at the end of the day everybody who’s been charged in this matter will be vindicated,” he said.