Roanoke Leaders Address Recent Protests, Entering Phase Two

Jun 3, 2020

City leaders continued their weekly, online news conference detailing their response to COVID-19 Wednesday. But the event was largely dominated by recent protests in the city.

During the press conference, Police Chief Sam Roman said demonstrations have been calmer the past couple of nights.

“I think the number one reason for that is because our citizens here in Roanoke city – they are not violent protesters," he explained. "They want to just advocate their message, which for the most part, the police department agrees with that message.”

Roman commended officers for working to limit property damage and violent exchanges.

Roanoke officials have not instituted a curfew as leaders in other Virginia cities – including Lynchburg and Richmond – have.

Reservations About Phase Two

In relation to COVID-19, most of the state is planning to enter Phase Two of Governor Ralph Northam's reopening plan on Friday.

But leaders in Roanoke are a little uneasy about moving forward and are still weighing their options.

Mayor Sherman Lea detailed some of his reservations during the Wednesday news conference.

“My concern is that testing is being done and I see an increase; the numbers seem to be spiking," Lea said. "And I’m not sure that we are altogether ready to go to another phase.”

Roanoke has added 23 new cases since Friday, though that's a small percentage of the 747 test results reported over the same period.

Nevertheless, the city is currently planning to move into that next step on Friday. Officials say their concerns have prompted them to take a slower, phased approach to reopening municipal facilities, though.