Over the weekend protests across the country became violent as outside agitators and federal officers escalated violence against otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protests.
This included protests in Richmond, Virginia, where peaceful demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday night turned violent following infiltration of the protests by white supremacists, according to local officials.
“There were white supremacists marching under the banner of Black Lives Matter, attempting to undermine an otherwise overwhelmingly peaceful movement towards social justice,” said Mayor Levar Stoney during a Sunday news conference, according to the Washington Post.
Police are now investigating incidents that took place over the weekend, causing property damage and a city dump truck to be set on fire. Police Chief Gerald M. Smith told reporters that fliers promoting the rallies and people arrested over the weekend came from outside of Richmond.
“We have identified some individuals who have been seen with the Boogaloo boys and some Antifa groups around the area,” Smith said on Sunday. “The majority of those individuals who were there last night were caucasian.”
The Boogaloo boys, who were photographed attending the Richmond protests, are a group of anti-government right-wing extremists who have taken advantage of social justice activism to cause chaos. A member of the group, which promotes cop-killing rhetoric, is currently facing murder charges for the death of two law enforcement officers in June during Black Lives Matter rallies in California.
Richmond police arrested nearly two dozen demonstrators over the weekend, though it’s unclear how many of these arrests include actual BLM protestors. Mayor Stoney told reporters that agitators carried signs that read “Black Lives Matter” as an attempt to denigrate the movement and shield their identity.
“The mission is simple,” Stoney said. “To undermine the months of peaceful, community-driven protests that this city has seen.”