An hour after the announcement, more than a hundred activists gathered in the park, preparing for a confrontation with the police. When the lightning flashed overhead, they stood on the stone steps of the statue, many with firearms or makeshift shields. Police lights were visible on Monument Avenue in any direction.
“I’ll be on the front line,” said Brian Jones, 32, referring to the possibility of fighting. “How would I explain it to my children if it wasn’t?”
Finally, the police did not attempt to enforce the curfew, although many people believe they will do so this week. Those who have created a new community base in the park said they plan to resist the crackdown as long as they can. “This is my family,” said an activist, who declined to give her name. “This is a safe place for us.” She had tears in her eyes.
Community born of necessity
Last week, Travis and Tori Sky, 32 and 29, brought their 4-year-old son Major to the memorial to celebrate his kindergarten graduation, forcing him to raise his fist in front of the altered statue for a photo. “Even if she doesn’t remember, we can tell her she was here,” Sky said.
When asked what he thought of the graffiti under his feet, Major said, “I like all colors.”
“Does any of this mean anything to you?” Mr. Sky asked.
“Mmm … no,” Major said, smiling.
Several weeks earlier, on May 30, hundreds of activists marched down Monument Avenue, which is one of Richmond’s richest streets, calling for the removal of the five Confederate statues that give it its name.