By Randy Singleton
NJG Community Correspondent
More than one hundred activists with Black Lives Matter 757 staged a peaceful demonstration on the Virginia Beach boardwalk on the 4th of July called “Shut Down the Oceanfront 2.0”. It was called a follow up to the May 31 protest in Virginia Beach which ended violently with the police calling the demonstration an “unlawful assembly” and deploying tear gas and flash bangs to disperse the crowd.
The demonstration Saturday was launched at 7:57 p.m. on one of the city’s most popular tourist holidays with the aim of pressuring city officials and the police to address activists’ calls at recent public meetings for the creation of a citizen’s review board.
According to Aubrey Japharii Jones, the president of Black Lives Matter 757, they want the city to launch an investigation of the claims of systemic racism in the Virginia Beach Police Department. They also support defunding the police and redirecting those earmarked funds to community based grassroots programs,.
The group is also calling for harsher charges against a man who drove a pickup truck into a crowd of protesters during the May 31 demonstration at the oceanfront. Currently, the man is charged with four misdemeanor offenses.
The demonstrators met Saturday for a pre-rally at Mt. Trashmore. They then gathered at Rudee Loop but were prevented by Virginia Beach police on bikes from marching down Atlantic Avenue presumably to prevent damage to oceanfront businesses. The group then relaunched the demonstration on the boardwalk and were joined by beachgoers and cheered by hotel guests from balconies.
The peaceful protest concluded shortly after 10 p.m. The group plans to rally and show up en masse at a upcoming Virginia Beach City Council meeting.