A Portsmouth school board member says the obstruction of justice charge she is facing is “bogus” and believes the Portsmouth Police Department is trying to intimidate her as a community activist.
Lakeesha Atkinson, who was elected in November 2016, was booked on the misdemeanor charge Tuesday night and released on bond. She says police arrested her outside City Hall before the city council meeting.
Police have not released details about the charge, but Atkinson tells WAVY.com it stems from an incident on September 9 on Randolph Street near the Harbor Square Apartments.
Atkinson says she noticed six police officers who detained two juveniles sitting on the ground.
“They looked like they could be students in the Portsmouth Public Schools. I asked them how old they were,” she said.
She says a female police officer told her to “step back.”
“I said ‘for what,’ and that’s when [the officer] pushed me with one hand.”
Atkinson says she backed up and watched the situation unfold from a distance and started recording the scene on her cell phone.
“I was a concerned citizen,” she said. “Those kids looked like they could be my nephews.”
Atkinson says she set up a meeting for Monday with Chief Tonya Chapman through James Boyd, president of the Portsmouth chapter of the NAACP, but the meeting got canceled.
Atkinson says she feels disrespected by the city she serves.
“I feel like Portsmouth police is trying to silence me as an activist and using the situation as an intimidation tactic,” she said. “I invest so much time, effort and money in this city.”
Atkinson says she plans to hire an attorney on Wednesday.
“I am extremely disappointed by the action of these officers and the Portsmouth Police Department,” she said. “I definitely will beat this charge. It’s bogus.”
Misty Holley, a spokesperson for the Portsmouth Police Department, said late Tuesday she could not comment on Atkinson’s specific claims. Holley says she plans to send more information about the warrant on Wednesday.
Editor’s note: Outlife757 Magazine interviewed Atkinson for our January 2017 edition.
In that interview, she said, “When I decided to come out in high school, I knew that I would be a triple minority: black, female and gay. I accepted that those were the challenges I had to face in my life, but also the ones that I wanted to challenge.”
“I had to do something to turn that potential disadvantage to the benefit of those around me. Any human rights violations, inequality and injustice–I wanted to help change.”