Define Virginia Beach

Mayor Bobby Dyer June 1, 2020

I wish had taken pictures yesterday while I had the chance. Police have asked residents to avoid the oceanfront until further notice.

Yesterday my husband and I walked down the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, enjoying another beautiful day in our beautiful city. Having lunch on the terrace at Catch 31, we planned bringing our grandson Nathan to the boardwalk, to rent bikes and make a memory day. We drove down the strip discussing which shops Nathan would like, and decided to include a game at his favorite beach putt-putt course.

I was not expecting the attack on Virginia Beach last night.

The last few days had made me hopeful Hampton Roads would avoid the confrontations between protesters, police, and citizens that have occurred across the country. Protests took place in Portsmouth and Norfolk, in response to the death of George Floyd. Organized by Black Lives Matter 757, these protests were non-violent. Some of our community leaders were reaching out. Police chiefs were talking with the protest leaders, and several officers took a knee alongside protesters. Delegate Glen Davis attended a BLM757 event and picnic, where the group’s position was clearly against violence and destruction. We were given many reasons to hope for the best.

Why did the protest at the VB Oceanfront, also organized by BLM757, turn to violence and destruction?

I watched the BLM757 live feed, broadcast as protesters walked up and down the strip, along the boardwalk, and back into the streets. The VB police were leading the protesters, stopping traffic and actively participating for most of the non-violent march. Toward the end, I lost track of the police officers.

During the protest march, the VB Police Scanner Feed Conversation group began reporting items thrown at police and car windows broken.

Something had gone wrong. Terribly wrong.

I was watching a live feed by the protest organizer with no violence, while the police scanner was reporting violence.

Apparently there were other “protesters” who started the destruction. Whether these people had broken off from the organized protest or arrived on their own is not clear. It does seem clear that the BLM757 protest, as organized, did not incite the violence or property damage.

How can non-violent protesters have a voice without being blamed for actions of others?

You know, Virginia Beach is not defined by violence, it’s defined by our people…Let’s start building those bridges of trust, let’s start communicating with each other…Let’s take this opportunity to become a stronger city and a stronger nation.

Mayor Bobby Dyer at the Oceanfront

Let’s take Mayor Dyer’s advice.

Hampton Roads mayors and the leaders of BLM757 could work together to protect the protesters and the city. Police and the protest organizers can map out the march. Have police officers lead and follow the protesters through the march, from beginning to end. Any “outsiders” instigating violence can be more easily identified and arrested.

I hope Virginia Beach will take the lead, take steps to protect peaceful protesters from being unfairly maligned by troublemakers while we protect our city.

Protect the protesters

Protect our city

We can do both

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