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Cross posted from Blue Virginia

Thanks to my friend JR Tolbert for the images from Richmond, the first of which he annotated, "#waronwomen rally in Richmond for women's health," and the second "SWAT team dispersed the peaceful crowd." Also, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "Thirty women's-rights demonstrators were arrested this afternoon in a protest at the state Capitol that drew hundreds of protesters and Virginia State Police in riot gear." Why? "Capt. Raymond Goodloe of the Virginia Division of Capitol Police...said those arrested were likely accused of either trespassing or unalawful assembly." Uh huh.

UPDATE: JC Wilmore of The Richmonder just posted video. I'm bumping that to the top, photos now after the "fold." JC writes, "A group of peaceful protesters opposed to the Republican Party's War on Women are surrounded by riot police and dragged away under the guns of a SWAT team."

UPDATE #2: The Washington Post reports: "The group had a permit to rally at the Bell Tower on Capitol Square earlier in the day, but Goodloe said rallies are not allowed on the Capitol steps. The group had planned to march to the Executive Mansion where Gov. Bob McDonnell lives after the rally."

UPDATE #3: Washington Kaplan Post #FAIL!!! Uh guys, this was NOT an "anti-abortion rally". Unbelievable.

UPDATE #4: Now the Kaplan Post dumb***es are calling it an "abortion rally." WTF is an "abortion rally?" (Note: One of the many reasons I can't stand the Post is that they plagiarize blogs like mine ALL THE TIME. Basically, they have few standards, fewer journalistic ethics, and are simply desperate for "eyeballs" and $$$$.)

UPDATE #5: Richmond's Style Weekly ("Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion") has more, including "Some of the State Police officers wore green camouflage and carried rifles and canisters of tear gas (no tear gas was used, however)."

UPDATE #6: More video of the peaceful protest.


Delegate Delores McQuinn (D-70th, Richmond City) Statement on Arrest of Women’s Rights Protestors

Richmond—“Today’s arrests at the Capitol are just the latest example of government overreach that we’ve seen in recent weeks. The men and women who marched on Capitol Square have a right to peacefully protest without the threat that they will be arrested for exercising that right.

At several recent women’s rights events, there has been an overabundance of police presence. In fact, the Capitol Police Tactical Team has been at all of the events. I have never seen a similar police presence when guns rights advocates assemble on Capitol Square on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. We must ask the question: what are they so afraid of? Women demanding the right to be treated with respect shouldn’t illicit arrest.

I fully, adamantly support the right for all persons to peacefully protest the actions of their government. I know that I’m not the only legislator who is listening to these women as they fight to maintain the same level of dignity and compassion shown to their male counterparts.

Today’s actions are a sad reminder that our progress towards equality for all Virginians has not been achieved.”

Women fought for decades to achieve equality with men and the right to control their personal medical decisions.  My mother was legally prohibited from attending most Virginia universities or professional schools, was unable to buy a car without the signature of a man, or choose when she wanted to have a child when she reached adulthood in Virginia in 1962.  Thanks to the victories won by women over the last forty years, my three daughters will have choices and opportunities in life that my mother, my grandmothers, and their predecessors could have never dreamed of founded.  These opportunities are founded upon economic equality and the right to decide when to give birth to a child.

The ultrasound bill is three steps backwards for Virginia women.  Forcing women who have been diagnosed as carrying an anecephelatic or non-viable fetus to undergo a second ultrasound and place a picture of it in her medical records for seven years or longer is state sponsored torture.

These  arrests vividly evidence the depth of the anger, betrayal, and dismay that Virginians feel by the passage of House Bill 462 by both chambers.  Earlier this session, the Republican majority in the House of Delegates refused to schedule the Equal Rights Amendment for a hearing even after it has been passed by the Virginia Senate.  The Commonwealth's decision to send in police with riot gear and arrest unarmed peaceful protestors demonstrate the depth of paranoia that Virginia Republicans continue to feel about women given equal rights to men in the law.  The arrest of women and men exercising their Constitutional rights on the steps of the Capitol of the state that is the home for the author of the First Amendment is especially ironic.  

The protests and arrests are also evidence that there will be electoral consequences in Virginia in 2012 and 2013 for anyone who voted in favor of ultrasound or anti-contraception legislation this session.

Wayne Powell, Candidate for nomination against Cantor, Denounces Police Overreaction at Demonstrations

Richmond - E. Wayne Powell, candidate for the Democratic nomination against Eric Cantor in the Seventh Congressional District, today released this statement about the incidents at the Capitol. Mr. Powell said, "While I certainly believe that any and all demonstrations should be peaceful, lawful, and not put participants or passersby in any danger, I believe that having state police show up in riot gear and with canisters of tear gas to face women and men who are demonstrating 'loudly with silence,' is an overreaction and a provocation to violence."

"These individuals who showed up to protest were exercising their constitutional right to assembly and free speech. They were not threatening anyone, they were not destroying property, they were not hindering anyone else's activities. While I certainly would have preferred that they had not chosen to 'occupy' the Capitol steps, at the same time, I question why the police thought Virginians on the steps of their own Capitol was so dangerous.

"To have then forcibly removed these people and risked injury to them seems to me a serious overreaction and an incitement to further violence. I would ask the governor to treat protesters with the same respect and courtesy he gives those numerous individuals who enter the General Assembly Building every day armed with guns and ammunition. In these times after Congressman Gabby Giffords' shooting, I think we should be significantly more concerned about armed individuals in an office building than peaceably assembled demonstrators outside on public property."

UPDATE #10: Superb video of "Bob McDonnell's Virginia" by JC Wilmore. Thanks, and great work!

Originally posted to lowkell on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 02:16 PM PST.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, Abortion, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Progressive Hippie.

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