The Leesburg Police Department is investigating an incident of destruction of town property that occurred Friday evening near Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s Leesburg home.
Just before 7 p.m. Sept. 11, Leesburg Police dispatchers received a report of 20 to 25 people wearing black masks on the sidewalk in the historic district. The caller said one member of the group was painting on the sidewalk, which is town-owned property. Officers arrived to find a protest, with at least one of the protesters using a megaphone. “LIBEREN A TODXS” and “FREE THEM ALL!” were painted on the public sidewalk in large blue letters. A member of the crowd who was identified as the organizer advised that they were protesting for the release of all inmates incarcerated in an immigration detention facility in Farmville.
Officers requested that the group reduce their noise and clean up the paint on the sidewalk. The group claimed that the paint was washable and easily removable; however, Loudoun County Fire Rescue was unable to wash it off and the paint has since been removed by the town’s Public Works Department.
The protest followed a report by the Washington Post detailing a summertime transfer of detainees to the Virginia facility via charter flight, which resulted in a coronavirus outbreak that sickened hundreds of detainees, one of whom died. In the report, an unidentified Homeland Security official has claimed that the charter flight was conducted to transport tactical teams to protests in Washington, DC, using the detainee transport as a cover for the real reason for the trip. Although the detention center is a federal property operated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, several organizations have spent much of the summer calling on Herring and Gov. Ralph Northam to conduct thorough health inspections of the Farmville facility and consider releasing detainees because of reports of widespread COVID-19 outbreaks at the detention center.
The incident remains under investigation by the police department’s Criminal Investigation Section. Anyone who witnessed the incident and who has not already spoken to law enforcement is asked to contact Detective J. Mocello at 703-771-4500 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call the Leesburg Crime Line at 703-443-TIPS. Information can also be sent using TIPSUBMIT via text. Text 274637 (CRIMES) and begin your message with LPDTIP.