A protest at the mall in Virginia Beach lasted just minutes. Demonstrators were escorted out and told they’d be arrested for trespassing if they stayed there.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A Black Lives Matter protest at Lynnhaven Mall Monday night lasted only for minutes before about 20 protesters were kicked off the property by mall security and police officers.
The demonstrators were protesting the wrongful detention of Jamar Mackey, who was handcuffed at the mall Saturday.
The protesters said the incident shows a pattern of overzealous and overaggressive policing in Virginia Beach as well as a pattern of ongoing, traumatizing experiences in the city.
Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate apologized for Mackey’s detention Monday, saying “we could’ve done better.” Neudigate said the department is investigating if the stop and use of handcuffs were justified.
The protesters who were at the mall Monday chanted “Black Lives Matter” in the food court around 8 p.m. before they were escorted out of the building.
The food court is where police handcuffed Mackey as he ate with his family.
A Lynnhaven Mall security leader told protesters that “mall security was not involved, mall management was not involved, [the detention] was strictly a Virginia Beach Police event.” Protesters responded to that by saying that because the incident happened at the mall, it demanded accountability from the mall.
Security officers and Virginia Beach police officers walked the protesters to the parking lot. One protester yelled, “We want to know. Do Black Lives Matter at Lynnhaven Mall?!”
In the parking lot, a police officer told protesters if they stayed on the property any longer they would be issued a citation for trespassing.
“People wonder why we have such a fear of the cops. We have these traumatizing experiences that happen to us, and they continue to repetitively happen,” said protester Rechelle Jones.
Jones said people are upset that there hasn’t been significant progress in Virginia Beach after all the activism this year calling for better police practices and racial equality.
“Until we get some type of action, some type of reform like we’ve been asking for – the citizens’ review panel, investigative boards – it goes in one ear and out the other. and we are made to be the ‘antagonizers’ of every situation.”
Neudigate said the outrage over the incident will lead to a review of the department.
“We truly inconvenienced one of our citizens,” Neudigate said. “I think this gives us a valuable opportunity to also look at our procedures and policies from an outside lens.”
Neudigate also said officers broke department requirements by not wearing masks during the detention of Mackey, and “that will be addressed.”