A police chief in the US state capital of Virginia has resigned after weeks of protests against police brutality spurred by the death of George Floyd, Richmond’s mayor announced.
“I have high expectations for the Richmond Police Department [RPD], our law enforcement. At a very minimum, I expect them to be willing to come around the table with the community to reform and reimagine public safety. So it boils down to whether the leadership of RPD embraces the change or stands in the way,” Levar Stoney was quoted by local television station, at a news conference.
“That is why, as of this morning, I requested Chief [William] Smith’s resignation, and he has tendered it,” Stoney added.
Maj. Jody Blackwell was named interim police chief of the city of about 227,000 residents in the eastern seaboard state.
Smith’s resignation came after an apology earlier this month for police actions during protests.
Several officers have been placed on leave due to pending investigations into their conduct during the protests.
Floyd, 46, an unarmed black man, died after being pinned down May 25 by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota after reportedly attempting to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a local store.
His last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a slogan for worldwide protests.
His death has prompted more than two weeks of largely peaceful mass protests across the US, though some also saw violence and looting.
Meanwhile, a national movement to remove historical monuments seen as honoring racist figures or incidents continues to gain momentum.
More than 9,700 Americans have signed a petition to remove a statue depicting President Abraham Lincoln standing over a freed slave in Boston’s Park Square.
Statues along Monument Avenue in Richmond, the former capital of the Civil War-era Confederate states, have come under similar criticism.
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