Monday, 01 June 2020 16:27

One Rockingham building slightly damaged; police say unrelated to main protesters

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The windows of CVS Pharmacy were boarded up Monday morning after Rockingham Police say a brick was thrown through the front door Sunday night. The windows of CVS Pharmacy were boarded up Monday morning after Rockingham Police say a brick was thrown through the front door Sunday night. Leah Melvin - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — While a protest against police abuse and racism got a little rowdy Sunday evening, police say there was little property damage in the city.

Detective Lt. George Gillenwater said there was an incident at CVS Pharmacy, on the corner of Long Drive and East Broad Avenue, where a brick was thrown through the front door.

Gillenwater said it seems to be unassociated with the main protest group.

Earlier in the day, a group of protesters marched down East Broad Avenue from Richmond Plaza to Burger King before having a rally at the plaza.

Several held signs reading: “‘I can’t breathe.’ - George Floyd,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Our Lives Matter.”

One of the organizers told the RO the protest was to rally the community “and let our voice be heard…Not only is about police brutality, it’s about racism, it’s about social injustices that we face every day.”

Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons —who released a statement condemning the actions in Minneapolis, Minnesota, involving the death of George Floyd while being detained and held down by police officers which sparked protests and riot nationwide — went to talk to the crowd.

“They thought that you would make things better,” one protester told Clemmons. “You gotta make difference, brother, that’s why they put you there.”

“We have bad in everything,” Clemmons replied, “bad school teachers, bad doctors, bad lawyers, bad judges, bad law enforcement officers. And we have to do what we have to do to weed those bad officers out.

Another man, standing behind Clemmons said, “The system is corrupt. No matter who you put in the system, it’s gonna be corrupt.”

Clemmons, with Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly standing behind him, continued to listen and explain his position to the crowd.

“I’m working every day to make sure the job is being done,” he said. “If those officers are doing corruption, I call in the SBI to get rid of them … that’s what we have to do.”

The conversation continued for several minutes, with some protesters shouting the sheriff down.

“Listen, what can we do to work together as a group,” Clemmons asked, to which someone nearby replied, “Nothing.”

It was then the crowd started chanting, “F--k the police!”

Clemmons and Kelly left the crowd and returned to the sidewalk.

The crowd remained in the center of the parking lot in front of Save-A-Lot for about 20 minutes before moving toward the side with Roses and Rue 21.

There was a mention of moving over to Lowe’s and several minutes later someone yelled out, “Walmart!”

Some of those who had gathered zoomed out of the parking lot.

Sirens blared and lights flashed as deputies from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office drove down U.S. 74 Business toward Walmart.

Within minutes, the Rockingham Police Department quickly left the shopping center heading back toward downtown as deputies pulled in to guard the stores in the plaza.

Kenneth Robinette, chairman of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners and chief operating officer of C.F. Smith Property Group, which owns the plaza, stood on the sidewalk near the future Planet Fitness, watching from afar.

Robinette said none of the storefronts were damaged.

Gillenwater said early Monday afternoon that no arrests had yet been made in relation to the protests.

While most of the action took place in Rockingham, the Hamlet Police Department responded to a shots-fired call which turned out to be fireworks, according to Capt. Randy Dover.

Word circulated late Monday morning that the protests would resume in the evening.

Gillenwater said the department will be staffed accordingly as a precautionary measure.


Last modified on Monday, 01 June 2020 19:32