Police Chief Will Smith on Saturday provided details on a terrible incident that was carried out during riots on Friday night that continuing in the wake of George Floyd's death one week ago. A multi-family residence that was occupied and had a child inside was set on fire and rioters blocked firefighters from accessing the scene.
Demonstrations that began peacefully enough in Richmond, Virginia turned destructive and violent, as they have in so many cities over this past week.
Smith noted that a multi-family residence that was occupied at the time, and had a child inside the home, was set on fire. As firefighters made their way to the scene, rioters blocked them from accessing the home to put out the flames, according to the Daily Wire.
Officers were eventually able to secure access to the home and to save the occupants, as well as the child.
"One incident that is particularly poignant, that truly illustrates the seriousness of the issues we’re facing," Smith said to reporters.
"Protesters intentionally set a fire to an occupied building on [West] Broad Street. This is not the only occupied building that has been set fire to in the last two days."
"They prohibited us from getting on scene," Smith continued. "We had to force our way to make a clear path for the fire department."
"Protesters intercepted that fire apparatus several blocks away with vehicles and blocked that fire department’s access to the structure fire," Smith said. "Inside that home was a child."
"Officers were able to… help those people out of the house," Smith said while full of emotion.
"We were able to get the fire department there safely."
"When you take a legitimate issue and hijack it for unknown reasons, that is unacceptable to me," Smith stated, "it’s unacceptable to the Richmond Police Department, unacceptable to the city of Richmond."
Protests began taking place throughout the US on Tuesday, the day after George Floyd’s death. Floyd died during an incident involving a police officer, Derek Chauvin, who pinned him down against the ground, securing Floyd with his knee, cutting off his oxygen while the man pleaded for his life. Floyd was 46-years-old, Chauvin, who has been charged with murder and manslaughter, is 44.
The protests became violent and destructive as looting and arson arose in Minneapolis, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Rochester, New York City, Richmond, as well as multiple other cities, in more than half of the states in the US.
The four officers involved in the incident have lost their jobs and investigations have been opened by state law enforcement and the FBI. The main officer, Chauvin, was taken into custody on Tuesday, and has since been moved to Minnesota's maximum security prison.