Lucas Charges Had Lawmakers Buzzing on First Day of Special Session

Aug 18, 2020

State Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, arrives for the Virginia Senate Special Session in the temporary Senate chambers at the Science Museum of Virginia Tuesday Aug. 18, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Authorities say Lucas has been charged with two felonies for her alleged involvement in the damaging of a large Confederate monument during protests in the city of Portsmouth.
Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber, Pool

As lawmakers arrived in Richmond for a special session to rewrite the budget and adopt criminal justice reform, lawmakers are buzzing about one of their own members charged with a felony.

Senator Louise Lucas is the president pro temp of the Senate, and she presides over the chamber when the lieutenant governor isn’t around. She’s also now facing felony charges in Portsmouth for injury to a Confederate monument.

Delegate Cia Price of Newport News says she wasn’t aware that injury to an inanimate object was a felony. 

“The timing was political, and they sent us a message," she says. "But our message is reform is coming. Games are not, and I look forward to them clearing her name.”

The charges come just as lawmakers are meeting in Richmond to consider banning police use of no-knock warrants and chokeholds as well as setting up civilian review boards and requiring judges rather than magistrates to sign off on search warrants executed at night. 

“I think it’s the police gone rogue," says Claire Gastanaga at the ACLU, adding that the charges against Senator Lucas were signed off on by a magistrate rather than the local prosecutor.

“It’s not a good picture for them to draw in a circumstance in which people are genuinely concerned about the lack of civilian engagement in reviewing the behavior of police or deciding how they want to be policed,” explains Gastanaga.

The chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia is calling for Senator Lucas to turn herself in.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.