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City Suffers Despite Planning and Police 

Streets were peaceful for a spell.

Around 10, two Virginia Alcohol and Beverage Control special agents ascended Church Hill in an unmarked car. They were there as “floaters” to assist police. The officers looked northwest from the Grace Street promontory for a sign of what would come. A swarm of headlights advanced along the interstate. A line of cars snaked onto Broad Street and uncurled toward Shockoe Bottom. The cars carried nearly 15,000 people, mostly teens and young adults, mostly black, streaming into the city following the daylong event at the theme park.

Police used every traffic sign they had to divert traffic off Broad. They stood sentinel at intersections, in streets and on parking lots. They straddled bikes and horses as loiterers flooded downtown.

A man dressed in a white suit spouting expletives and surrounded by women was whisked away from Secrets nightclub by a security guard. Another guard had just been stabbed and was in an ambulance bleeding, the driver said. Despite standstill traffic, the ambulance made it to MCV Hospitals.

Just before midnight, City Manager Calvin Jamison waited with his son Calvin and some of his friends along Broad Street for word on the status of an after-party held at the Renaissance. Police had called the fire marshal to the scene because throngs of people were spilling out of the place. The younger Jamison, a student at Hampton University, had been to the BET event, he said, and it had been fun — an incident-free good time.

An hour later, a dispatcher for police called for “any available unit” to respond to shots fired at Broad and Pine streets. A crowd swelled in seconds. And police pierced it. VCU students gazed out of their dorms as yellow tape reading “police line do not cross” emblazoned Broad. Blue lights flickered to the east and west as far as the eye could see.

A 21-year-old man was shot dead in a VCU parking lot, his car door ajar, his protruding arm lifeless and impossible to ignore.

Behind the yellow tape people pointed and pressed cell phones close to their ears. “Look at the dead body, somebody shot his ass,” someone said. To the left of the victim’s SUV a young man — one of a handful — in handcuffs buckled over and vomited next to a wrought-iron fence.

The streets were quiet except for the sound of car engines. “You can’t stop this shit, it ain’t going to stop,” an officer at the scene said, shaking his head as if defeated. “There are a thousand cops out here and [the people] don’t care.” — Brandon Walters

Letters to the editor may be sent to: letters@styleweekly.com


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