Within an hour of the announcement, more than a hundred activists gathered at the park, preparing for a clash with the police. As lightning flashed overhead, they stood on the statue’s stone steps, many carrying firearms or makeshift shields. Police lights were visible down Monument Avenue in either direction.
“I’ll be on the front lines,” said Brian Jones, 32, referring to the possibility for fighting. “How would I explain it to my kids if I wasn’t?”
Ultimately, the police did not try to enforce the curfew, though many people believe they will do so this week. Those who have created a new community base at the park said they plan on resisting the crackdown as long as they can. “This is my family,” said one 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 son Major, 4, to the monument to celebrate his graduation from kindergarten, coaxing him to raise a fist in front of the altered statue for a photo. “Even if he doesn’t remember, we can tell him that he was here,” Mr. Sky said.
Asked what he thought of the graffiti beneath his feet, Major said: “I like all of the colors.”
“Does any of this mean anything to you?” Mr. Sky asked.
“Mmm … no,” Major said, grinning.
Several weeks before, on May 30, hundreds of activists marched down Monument Avenue, which is one of Richmond’s wealthiest streets, calling for the removal of the five Confederate statues that give it its name.