Virginia state senator, NAACP leaders charged with felony 'injury' to Confederate statue

The arrest of Virginia's Senate president pro tempore is raising suspicions from the state's top Democrats.

Louise Lucas, the legislature's top ranking Democrat, who represents Portsmouth, was charged with felony "injury to a monument" and conspiracy Monday, as were the city's NAACP president and vice president, a school board member, and four others. The charges stemmed from a June protest where protesters tore down a statue of a Confederate soldier, though it's unclear if Lucas played a role in taking it down, per local station WAVY.

The timing of the arrest raised questions from Virginia House Rep. Lee Carter (D), given that the state legislature was set to reconvene this week for a special session on criminal justice reform. Virginia's constitution bars the arrest of General Assembly members during or 15 days before their sessions, except for "treason, felony, or breach of the peace."

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) echoed Carter's suspicion.

Virginia lawmakers this week will consider a change to "a law that allows police to charge people with felony assault even if the arresting officers are not seriously hurt," The Virginian-Pilot reports. Bills to bar police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants, to make it easier to expunge criminal records, and to eliminate jury sentencing are also on the docket this week.

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