The Bulletin

Plywood barricades come down at Virginia Capitol after five months

By: - November 11, 2020 2:35 pm

Workers removed plywood sheets Tuesday that had been used to board up the public entrance to the Capitol since late May, when the death of George Floyd sparked three consecutive nights of rioting, looting and arson in Richmond. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

A plywood barricade blocking the entrance to the Virginia Capitol — a stark reminder of the civil unrest the roiled Richmond after George Floyd’s death — came down this week after more than five months.

“It has been some time since we have experienced violent protests at Capitol Square,” Department of General Services spokeswoman Dena Potter said in an email, “so in consultation with the Division of Capitol Police, DGS thought it was an appropriate time to remove the plywood that had been protecting the Capitol visitor entrance.”

The public entrance to the Virginia Capitol in June. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

The Capitol was one of many downtown buildings fortified at the end of May, when Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minnesota sparked three nights of unrest in Richmond that included rioting, looting and arson. Protests continued for months, in most cases peaceful, though there were also violent confrontations with police and instances of property damage.

The public entrance to the Capitol is located on Bank Street, which is often the site of protests and rallies, most recently over the weekend, when supporters of President Donald Trump gathered Saturday.

The Capitol, typically open to visitors seven days a week, has been closed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s scheduled to reopen in January, according to the General Assembly’s website.

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Ned Oliver
Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association.