Weeks before Portsmouth, Virginia, Police Chief Angela Greene allowed one of her sergeants to bring unusual felony charges against state Sen. Louise Lucas (D) in connection with the destruction of a Confederate monument, Greene praised the sergeant for a letter he sent to city officials that blasted the state senator for calling for Greene’s dismissal.
Greene, who is now on leave, allowed Sgt. Kevin McGee to bring charges under a 70-year-old state law that makes it a felony to cause “injury to” Confederate monuments. Although Lucas had left the scene of the June 10 protest hours before a statue fell on a protester and seriously injured him, McGee contended that she and others who had left the scene took part in a conspiracy to bring the monument down. A total of 19 defendants have been charged with felonies. McGee obtained the felony warrants from a Virginia magistrate without the involvement of the city’s elected prosecutor.
HuffPost previously reported that McGee had sent a letter calling Lucas’ criticism of the chief following the June 10 protest “repulsive.” McGee’s letter also speculated disparagingly about how Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales would have handled cases against protesters.
Greene told Morales that she’d “definitely have a conversation with” McGee about the letter, and even said that she’d referred the letter to internal affairs.
In fact, the police chief had already sent an email to McGee praising his letter, telling him she was “so humbled and moved by your eloquent words ― that you by no means had to spend your time to write and send to our elected officials.”
“I am flabbergasted by your passionate and insightful statements that capture the totality of the circumstances; and deeply moved by your personal account of what it’s like for you, and just about every Officer wearing that badge right now, to come into work everyday,” Greene wrote to the sergeant.
“Words can’t express how you’ve touched my heart this morning. A mere thank you is not enough for putting your raw emotions on paper for everyone to see. You are the epitome of what an officer should be, brave, unwavering, dedicated, selfless and honorable to name a few. I’m privileged and honored to not only serve with you but call you family!”
Greene’s email praising McGee was included in documents HuffPost obtained from the Democratic group Activate Virginia, which had received them in response to a public records request.
McGee was one of several white officers who opposed former Portsmouth Police Chief Tonya Chapman, who was the first Black female chief in Virginia until she was pushed out. (Greene, Lucas and Morales are Black as well.) As The Virginian-Pilot reported, Black officers say the Portsmouth Police Department, which serves a majority-Black city, has an entrenched racist “good-ol’-boy” culture where officers don’t respect the people they work for.
“They come here for a check,” state Del. Don Scott (D), who is representing Lucas in court, previously told HuffPost. “We’re being controlled by a hostile force.”
Since Greene was suspended 10 days ago, the city’s Black city manager has resigned and white members of Portsmouth’s city council have voted to fire the Black city attorney (a separate job from that of Portsmouth’s top prosecutor). The Virginian-Pilot also reported that two white members of the city council may have violated the city charter by pressing the police chief to bring charges against demonstrators in connection with the monument’s destruction, but a magistrate rejected attempts to file misdemeanor charges against the council members.