The City of Portsmouth fired Police Chief Angela Greene on Monday morning. In a press conference, Greene said she was fired for enforcing the law against Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and others alleged to have damaged the city’s Confederate monument in a June protest. Former City Manager Lydia Pettis-Patton had placed Greene on administrative leave at the beginning of September.
“I believe that [I was] wrongfully terminated for upholding the law and being retaliated against for sticking to my sworn oath that I swore to serve and protect my citizens, community, and keep my officers safe,” Greene said.
Portsmouth Public Affairs Officer Dana Woodson wouldn’t comment on the reason for Greene’s termination.”This is a confidential personnel matter,” Woodson said. “She is no longer a City of Portsmouth employee, effective today.”
Shortly after Greene was fired Monday morning, the charges against Lucas were dismissed.
Greene said she would file a lawsuit for wrongful termination against the city. Her predecessor Tonya Chapman was the first Black woman to lead a city police department in Virginia, according to The Associated Press. Pettis-Patton, who is also Black, forced Chapman to resign in 2019. In a letter, Chapman blamed racism and power struggles in city government.
Greene said the city did not provide a reason for her termination, but she sees a link between her situation and the timing of the Lucas court case.
“The day that I was put on leave was the day that there was an arraignment, and coincidentally, the day she goes to trial is the day that I am terminated,” Greene said.
When Greene filed the charges against Lucas in August, Pettis-Patton expressed surprise in an internal email. “I was surprised and troubled when I was informed that despite acknowledging a Conflict of Interest, Chief Greene and members of the Police Department continued to be engaged without my knowledge.”
Greene replied in a press release, “After all efforts were exhausted to have a special grand jury appointed or an outside agency investigate the matter, it was evident that the investigation would be left up to our agency.”
After Pettis-Patton placed Greene on leave, the city council voted to remove Pettis-Patton and City Attorney Solomon Ashby in a vote split along racial lines that saw Black members voting to retain the officials.
In September, the Portsmouth Tea Party rallied for Greene to be reinstated. “[Greene] does exactly what she swore an oath to do, to defend and protect and apply the laws to everyone equally, including state senators, and now she’s no longer the police chief. So the Black woman who actually does her job and does it as she swore to do is relieved of duty, but the other Black powerful woman, who had actually violated our trust and commits felonies and releases a riot onto the very city [where] her constituents reside, she’s celebrated,” Portsmouth Tea Party Chairman Nelson Velez said.
On a GoFundMe page set up to fund Greene’s legal counsel, organizer A’Jah Wright wrote, “Because Chief Greene held local and state elected officials criminally accountable for their actions in the felonious destruction of the monument, she has been removed from her law enforcement position.”
Wright added, “Her only recourse to clear her name is to bring to light the political motives of elected and appointed officials that targeted her for retaliation, in hopes of preventing future political leaders from destroying the careers of law enforcement professionals who are dutifully carrying out the oath they swore to enforce laws and protect their community.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Angela Greene” by Portsmouth Police Department. Background Photo “Portsmouth Confederate Monument” by Doug Kerr. CC BY-SA 2.0.