Michelle Adams, Managing Editor
After the death of an area man created controversy on Facebook, a planned peaceful protest is rumored to have become violent in downtown Winchester.
The City of Winchester Police Department asked Virginia State Police to start an investigation following an apparent suicide last night.
While the investigation is ongoing, a press release from the Virginia State Police has stated that in the evening of Sunday, Feb. 28, Winchester officers arrived at the 2200 block of Roosevelt Boulevard to the scene of a fight between two men, “with the possible involvement of a firearm.” Reportedly, one man, later identified as D’Londre Tyrell Minifield, fled on foot, and after being chased by officers, displayed a firearm, and shot himself. The state police reported that none of the officers made any shots.
When the news of this incident went public, rumors swirled that Minifield, 20, was actually shot by police. A fundraiser was started to raise money for an independent autopsy to confirm the cause of death.
Also opened was a Facebook page entitled, “Justice for D’Londre.” Many videos have surfaced on the site, as well as much debate in the comments section of the page, with some defending the officers, and others claiming they were witness to this incident, and that the police shot Minifield. The comments have become vulgar and heated, with several people threatening violence in light of the incident:
The page organized two peaceful demonstrations, a protest and rally, for Monday, Feb. 29, downtown, but there have been reports of the up to 150 protesters banging on car windows as residents drive by, and some are rumored to be armed with baseball bats.
The Winchester Star posted a video of the protests to their Facebook page:
Winchester City Police were actively working to clear the roads for travel. They were unable to give a specific location as, “the crowd is mobile and changing locations frequently,” but they were asking that motorists avoid areas with protesters. Following the disburse of the protestors around 7:30 p.m., the department released a statement saying that, “While the Winchester Police Department values the right to protest, we will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the safety of all of its citizens.”
Winchester City has also halted WinTran routes until tomorrow, March 1, as a result of the protests.
Winchester residents are expressing concerns:
“I stay here in this town because I feel safe,” said a Shenandoah student and Winchester native who wished to remain anonymous, “and I don’t want riots to take it away.”
Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Article may be revised as updates become available.
UPDATE 2/29/16 8:39 p.m.: added Winchester PD press release.
UPDATE 3/1/16: Movement uses social media to engage community
UPDATE 3/1/16: Protest disintegrates; VA State Police conclude investigation
Feature photo courtesy of Justice for D’Londre Facebook page.
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