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For fourth weekend, protesters call for greater police accountability

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More than 100 people marched down the Downtown Mall Sunday to call for defunding area police departments, in the fourth weekend of protests since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis May 25.

Protesters stopped at the patios of open restaurants and encouraged patrons to join them in the march.

They also called for people to contact businesses that support the Charlottesville Police Foundation, an independent nonprofit that supports the department, and ask them to reconsider donations.

“If your business is supporting the Charlottesville Police Foundation, please note that you are going to have a full inbox in the morning,” said Ang Conn, who led the march down the mall with a megaphone.

She said that nobody should be celebrating Father’s Day while Black people are being murdered. A former Minneapolis police officer has been charged with murder in Floyd’s death; activists also have called for similar charges to be brought against officers who fatally shot a Kentucky woman, Breonna Taylor, in another recent incident.

“You can all sit around in your privilege,” Conn said. “While you’re enjoying your ice cream and snacks, please remember that some Black and brown folks do not have that luxury today.’

The march, which started at the Free Speech Wall, went down the mall to Second Street North West and down Market Street to the Charlottesville Police Department.

Community organizers blocked the mall crossovers with bicycles, and Market Street with bicycles and vehicles, and redirected traffic around the march.

Nearly every person at the march wore a mask.

There was no visible evidence of a police presence. Last weekend, activists complained about the presence of Virginia State Police troopers using Charlottesville city vehicles.

Outside the police department, Black community members used the megaphone to share their experiences and called for change.

One person called for a stronger Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board. The board is scheduled to have its first meeting later this month.

“We need a civilian review board that has subpoena power; we need subpoena power,” he said. “The civilian review board should be able to execute this one strike policy. They should be able to definitively determine if a police officer has engaged in police brutality, and if they have, they should have the power to get the police officer fired.”

On Market Street, people used colorful spray paint to write “Black Liberation Now,” “Defund and Abolish CPD, APD, UPD,” and other phrases onto the pavement in front of the police department.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho; these racist cops have got to go,” the crowd chanted.

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