The Portsmouth Magistrate has again rebuffed Portsmouth NAACP leaders in attempts to file charges against Portsmouth Council Members Bill Moody and Elizabeth Psimas. NAACP branch President James Boyd and Vice President Louie Gibbs went to the magistrate on Friday to present emails that they said showed Moody and Psimas committing a misdemeanor violation of the city charter.
The charter prevents council members from giving orders to employees under the city manager; Boyd and Gibbs argue that Moody and Psimas violated this by asking Police Chief Angela Greene to enforce the law against protesters, according to The Virginian-Pilot. Magistrate Thomas Cahill said the wording in the emails was not an order. This is the second time Boyd and Gibbs have asked a magistrate to charge the two council members.
Vice-Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke has been charged by a citizen with violating a similar part of the city charter for calling for Greene to be fired. Gibbs said the decisions revealed that the magistrate treats white officials and black officials differently. “It’s hugely frustrating to see the disparities waved in your face,” Gibbs told The Virginian-Pilot.
The rejected charges are the latest development in a summer-long drama in Portsmouth. On June 10, protesters damaged a Confederate monument in Portsmouth, injuring a man. Senator Louise Lucas was eventually charged for felony injury to a monument by Greene’s department. Lucas-Burke, who is Lucas’ daughter, responded by calling for Greene to be fired. More recently, the city council removed the city manager and city attorney after the city manager placed Greene on leave. The local NAACP censured the city council for removing the two officials.
Lucas’ case is still in the courts; her lawyer has filed to have the charges dismissed. High-profile Democrats including former Governor Terry McAuliffe have come out in support of Lucas, while Republicans have criticized her.
In August, former Senator Bill Carrico (R-Grayson) told The Virginia Star that Lucas had exceeded her role as a Senator. “We’ve got to hold even lawmakers accountable for things like that. That is anarchy in its worst form.”
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