- Associated Press - Friday, September 11, 2020

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) - Attorneys for a Virginia state senator have asked a judge to dismiss charges that allege that she conspired to damage a Confederate monument.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Thursday that the lawyers for Sen. Louise Lucas argue that the case stems from “an illegal and unsanctioned police action.”

Attorneys Don Scott and Verbena Askew argue that a criminal investigation of an elected official must be requested by the governor, the attorney general or a grand jury.

The lawyers say that Portsmouth police investigated without “permission or approval” from state police, the commonwealth’s attorney, governor or attorney general.

“Permitting any rogue local law enforcement agency to investigate an elected official without oversight would create a system whereby localities could attempt to intimidate and influence state officials at will,” Scott and Askew wrote.

Victoria Varnedoe, spokeswoman for Portsmouth police, did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Police charged Lucas and several others with conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000.

The charges stem from a June 10 protest that drew hundreds of people to a Confederate monument in Portsmouth. The heads of Confederate statues were ripped off. And one statue was pulled down, critically injuring a demonstrator.

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