2 men detained after vulgar banner shown during Va. Veterans Day ceremony

Described as a “disagreement” over free speech by Virginia Capitol Police, two men were detained Thursday after a banner containing vulgar language was displayed during a Veterans Day ceremony in Richmond.

The run-in began shortly after 11 a.m. when Ronald Hedlund, 60, of Glen Allen, drove his pickup truck over a sidewalk into a tow-away zone on Second Street near the base of the Virginia War Memorial’s amphitheater.

There, he displayed a “vulgar” banner with language directed at President Joe Biden in clear view of ceremony attendees, Virginia Capitol Police said in a statement.

Police approached Hedlund and asked him to move. After he refused, officers chose to stay with him until the ceremony had ended to avoid further distractions during the ceremony.

At the same time, Carl Grunow, a 58-year-old veteran from Chesterfield, Va., saw the banner and left the amphitheater during the ceremony. According to police, Grunow climbed into the bed of Hedlund’s truck, removed his suit jacket, and attempted to cover the banner with it.

Police say there was no physical contact between Grunow and Hedlund.

After multiple attempts to coax Grunow from the truck, officers removed him from the vehicle, issued a summons for disorderly conduct, and escorted him to his car.

Hedlund was ticketed for parking in a tow-away zone and allowed to leave.

“We are very sensitive to a person’s right to freely speak their mind, but when they will not work with our attempts to de-escalate matters, we are left with little choice.” Col. Anthony S. Pike, the agency’s chief, said.

Pike also said Capitol Police might consult with the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office on whether additional charges should be filed against Hedlund.

Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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