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VPM Daily Newscast June 25, 2022

A young woman listens to her phone, in shade of blue.
VPM Daily Newscast

VPM's daily newscast contains all your Central Virginia news in just 5 to 10 minutes. Episodes are recorded the night before so you can wake up prepared.                

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Davis Alcorn: Regina Boone, is a photojournalist with the Richmond Free Press. 

Regina Boone:  We have a history of covering protests, all types of protests. But this, this summer of 2020 was definitely like, unlike anything we had ever put our lens up to. 

Alcorn: When protests erupted in cities across the country after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Boone was there to capture the unrest. Now her photos are on display at Richmond’s Branch Museum in its new Re(Framing) Protest Exhibit. 

Boone: It was overwhelming. I mean, as black people. It was, like, refreshing in some ways to see. And then it was frightening in some ways. 

Alcorn: Sandra Sellars, Boone’s colleague at the Free Press, also has work on display at the exhibit. She covered Black Lives Matter protests in the past, but she says they had never been at this scale. 

Sandra Sellars: So many days, so many hours, sometimes two or three protests a day. So many hues of people, people from every walks of life.

Alcorn: They knew this moment would be different once they arrived on the scene the first night.  

Sellars: I mean, just cars couldn't drive down Broad Street. 

Boone: We knew we were in it for the long, long haul. In which we were.  

Alcorn: Both photojournalists would go on to cover the protests in Richmond for 65 consecutive days. During which, they took hundreds of thousands of photos. 

Boone: We’re there to document it, but we also feel everything that we're seeing. So, some days I just had to put my camera down and sit on the curb, and sometimes just take a breath. 

Alcorn: But Boone says they pushed forward. 

Boone: We just had to do it for, for our readers, for our history books, and for, for ourselves. 

Alcorn: As the protests continued into the summer, Boone and Sellars said they felt that the media was too focused on a few cases of looting and vandalism, although the demonstrations were, by and large, peaceful. 

Sellars: We would look at this bad stuff, and, and we would kind of cringe. 

Alcorn: So, when The Branch Museum reached out about creating a new exhibit, they already knew that they wanted to broaden the lens, by focusing on 89 photos of the community that demonstrators built. And as Boone reflects, the heart of this community was around the spray paint covered Robert E. Lee Monument. The area is now known as Marcus-David Peters Circle ...  renamed by protestors — after a Black man who was killed by Richmond police. 

Sellars: As we would go there every day and you'd see the, the art that was on the monument, the base and even around the barrier that's there that started to feel like well, maybe they should just keep it up. Because it was truly in context. But I understand why people wanted it to come down. 

Alcorn: The city dismantled more than a dozen Confederate statues and symbols throughout Richmond in 2020, before eventually taking down The Lee Monument in September of last year after a lengthy legal battle. Boone says that her father, Raymond Boone, the founder of the Richmond Free Press, would have likely celebrated Lee’s removal.  

Boone: The mantra he always preached at the Free Press that this was an avenue of losers, and he was always calling for these statues to come down. And that just because the statues come down, that does not mean the work stops. 

Alcorn: Both Sellars and Boone continue to have their cameras at the ready to capture news on the ground for Richmond Free Press. Their photos will continue to inform visitors to the Branch Museum until September 11th.