The Bulletin

Protesters dye fountain red at the Capitol and chant ‘We got the guillotine’ outside governor’s office

By: - February 18, 2019 4:02 pm

Protesters calling for Gov. Ralph Northam’s resignation marched on the streets around Capitol Square. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

A crowd of protesters demanding Gov. Ralph Northam’s resignation stood outside his office Monday and chanted “We got the guillotine, you better run.”

They were either taking inspiration from the French Revolution or rapper and writer Boots Riley, who included the chant in his song “The Guillotine.”

While the chant stood out, the rally was not entirely guillotine focused and for the most part the group tread along more typical protest fare, alternating between straightforward calls for Northam’s resignation, protest standards like “No cops, no KKK, no fascist USA,” and calls to halt the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and a proposed compressor station in Union Hill, a historically black community founded by freedmen.

The rally began at a nearby park. A contingent later marched to the Capitol. Police closed and blocked gates to prevent the group of several dozen from entering Capitol Square as they made their way to Northam’s office and the Executive Mansion.

Police said two people were arrested after dyeing a fountain on Capitol Square red.

“We helped campaign for Northam, and we felt the same energy we put into campaigning for him, we have to put that same energy into getting him out of office,” said Japharii Jones of Hampton.

Capitol police said two people were detained after dyeing a fountain on the square red around the same time the protest began.

Patrick E. Talmantes, 23, of Sacramento, Calif., was charged with misdemeanor vandalism and misdemeanor littering “after being observed pulling a container of red dye from a lime green shopping bag he was carrying and tossing it into the fountain at the southeast corner of Capitol Square,” according to police.

“A short time later, officers saw a woman sitting on a bench alongside the other Capitol Square fountain, near the park’s southwest corner, while also holding a lime green shopping bag. A search of that bag turned up the same contents as Talamantes’ bag: one red dye pack and several balloons filled with red dye.”

About an hour later on the other side of the square at an unrelated protest, Capitol Police arrested a woman protesting in support of the Equal Rights Amendment who was baring one of her breasts as she and another woman recreated the poses on the state seal, which depicts Virtus (yes, usually with a breast exposed), standing triumphant over Tyranny.

She refused to cover her chest when approached by police, who draped two jackets over her shoulder and led her away.

Police say Michelle Renay Sutherland, 45, of Florida, was charged with indecent exposure.

“We were here reenacting the state flag and the state seal of Virginia, which says that we shall not give into tyrants, and Speaker (Kirk) Cox and (House Majority Leader Todd) Gilbert are both tyrants who are stopping the Equal Rights Amendment from getting to the floor for a vote,” Natalie White, who portrayed Tyranny in the tableau, told a group of reporters after Sutherland was arrested.


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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.