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Richmond protesters surround Confederate statue on Monument Avenue

RICHMOND, Va. -- Protesters screaming "take down the monuments" marched from a park in downtown Richmond to the beginning of historic Monument Avenue before surrounding the statue of J.E.B. Stuart and planting a flag in the mouth of the Confederate general's horse Sunday night.

Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said officers responded to Abner Clay Park in Jackson Ward around 8:30 p.m. for an assembly.

Photo shows protestors in park before the march. (SOURCE: Steven Raikes)

Photo shows protestors in park before the march. (SOURCE: Steven Raikes)

Police followed the crowd and posted updates on social media that the group was moving down West Broad Street around 10:20 p.m.

Police said the demonstrators turned onto Lombardy Avenue and were headed for Monument Avenue as of 10:50 p.m. with the goal of reaching the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

However, the group settled for the Stuart statue when Capitol Police said only 20 people could gather at the Lee monument.

"Tear the racist statues down," the group yelled as one person attempted to climb the Stuart monument before nearly taking a spill and slipping down the statue.

The man, who was shirtless and wearing a mask, was successful on his second attempt. The crowd cheered as he walked back and forth before he successfully planted a flag on J.E.B. Stuart's horse.

City crews removed the flag just after 1 a.m.

Roads were blocked and police urged drivers to "proceed with caution" as people flooded the street.

The noisy crowd accosted members of the media filming and live streaming the event.

"Hey CBS, you're endangering lives right now," one protester said.

"Don't [expletive] film!" another protester shouted. "Don't [expletive] film!"

The crowd then began to chant the message and a man on a bike attempted to grab a WTVR CBS 6 camera.

The CBS 6 crew backed away and when they turned around the man on the bike extended his middle finger before finally moving along with the crowd.

The march ended just after 12:30 a.m. when the group returned to Abner Clay Park and dispersed.

A WTVR CBS 6 photojournalist assaulted

A WTVR CBS 6 photojournalist assaulted

Journalist attacked: 'This is not a peaceful protest' 

A WTVR CBS 6 journalist was assaulted earlier in the night when the protesters passed by the Camel restaurant on Broad Street.

The journalist, who was not working for the station at the time, was using his cell phone to shoot video of the breaking news on Broad Street.

“Stop filming bro,” one protester yelled.

“I can film whatever I want,” the CBS 6 staffer replied in the video. "Get out of my face."

The employee said protesters then put the flags in his face to block his camera view and intimidate him.

"That’s when then I extended my arm above the flags to try to get a better shot of the protest," he said. "One member of the group hit the phone out of my hand and my natural reaction was to push them out of my personal space. Immediately following I was hit in the back of the head with a some type of blunt object."

Officers responded and the journalist was transported via ambulance to the hospital. He received four staples in his head and was released.

"This is not a peaceful protest," he wrote.

Additionally, a marked WTVR CBS 6 crew on the scene captured video of one protester carrying a baseball bat.

Richmond Police said one person was arrested, but it was not the person who climbed the statue nor the person believed to have assaulted the WTVR CBS 6 staffer.

'We're trying to sleep!'

Another exchange happened around 11:30 p.m. after protesters surrounded the statue and were headed east back to park where the group originated.

"We're trying to sleep," one man yelled. "I have to be at work at six in the morning."

"Congratulations you won the argument. You look really cute. Enjoy your [expletive] job at 6 a.m.," a protester responded.

Durham: Officers did great job

Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said officers responded to Abner Clay Park around 8:30 p.m. for an assembly.

He said the group wanted to protest in front of the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee. However, Durham said Capitol Police would only allow 25 members of the group to do that, so the crowd turned back at the Stuart statue.

Virginia State Police, VCU Police and Capitol Police all responded to assist Richmond Police.

Durham said he was proud of all the officers who aided in crowd control.