The demand for justice in the killing of Marcus-David Peters moved from the streets to the council meeting room Monday night.
After a march for justice and reformation for Peters on June 2, family and community members addressed city council to call for transparency and an examination into Richmond Police Department’s crisis intervention training during the citizen comment period of the meeting.
As the demonstrators sat in the back of the gallery wearing burgundy and demanding justice for the actions by the department, Richmond City Council recognized Deputy Police Chief Steven R. Drew for his service to the community. Drew has no direct connection to the investigation, but offered a stark juxtaposition to Peters’ sister, Princess Blanding, who took to the podium a short time later.
Blanding, in her address, focused on the need for better crisis intervention training and response, asking the RPD to release the curriculum for the training so it could be assessed for its effectiveness. Throughout her address, she also insisted that the current communication by the department did not demonstrate transparency.
“If what you have done so far is what you call being transparent, the community and I will pass on what you have to offer because there are still so many unanswered questions,” Blanding said. After the community comment, Blanding spoke with RVA Mag and said she was hopeful that city council was receptive to her and others comments.
“I’m going to be very optimistic and hope they are being very receptive and they plan on joining with us in this movement to continue to fight for justice and reformation,” Blanding said.
Lynetta Thompson, a former president of the Richmond NAACP, also spoke, asking the police department for more transparency.
“In order for the people to be heard, in order for the people to have full accountability, it is important that we not only talk about transparency, but that we actually exemplify it by not protecting those that got it wrong,” Thompson said. “When something is wrong it is important that management and administrations admit that sometimes they get it wrong.”
Rebecca Keel, a conflict resolution specialist, has been outspoken in calling for an end to the murdering and dehumanization of black and brown people. At council she claimed the family is due an official apology.
“One must admit harm when harm is done and that is truly how we as a society, and we as a city, begin our healing,” Keel said.
Family, friends, and community members had previously gathered on June 2 at the Siegel Center to remember the untimely death of Peters. The hundreds of marchers ended up at police headquarters where they continued their primary chant of, “help not death.” Signs bearing the phrase were held up by many demonstrators in burgundy during the comments at council.
“My disappointment continues at the higher levels, instead of taking responsibility and stating that you all messed up and extending you sincerest condolences to my family, the Richmond Police Department was insincere, insensitive, judgemental, and prepared to defend your officer without releasing information to the public,” Blanding said.