State of emergency declared ahead of Charlottesville anniversary

Aug 14, 2018, 02:24
State of emergency declared ahead of Charlottesville anniversary

A Republican congressman from Virginia said Russian agents were involved in fomenting the deadly racial divisions on display a year ago at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In Washington, all firearms will be banned from the protest site, including those legally carried by licensed gun owners, officials said.

Last year, 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed when she was struck by a auto that had plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters.

According to the Associated Press, Jason Kessler, an organizer of last year's event, vowed to go ahead with plans for an August 12 rally in Washington, DC after Charlottesville denied him a permit.

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He told reporters Wednesday that central Charlottesville would be be accessible by only two entry points.

This weekend white nationalists are again planning to rally - this year outside the president's home in Washington, D.C.

"We are treating this as a statewide event", said Jeffrey Stern, state coordinator of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. "For the anniversary of that hard August weekend which resulted in three lost lives, the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia are working closely with law enforcement and public safety agencies from around Virginia to plan for potential events and to keep our city safe from violence", said Charlottesville's Interim City Manager Mike Murphy.

Authorities faced unrelenting criticism for their handling of last year's rally and an independent review that found serious police and government failures in responding to violence at the "Unite the Right" rally. Later, a woman was killed when a auto drove into a crowd of people opposing the white nationalists, and dozens more were injured.

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The Law Center's outreach director Lecia Brooks told AFP the rally reflected a "continued emboldenment on the part of white nationalists in this country".

The man accused in that attack, James Alex Fields of OH, has been charged with first-degree murder.

Counter-protesters turned out to demonstrate against the rally.

The independent review by former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy was sharply critical of both the city and state police, saying both "failed to "stand up" to protect human life".

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Officers will endeavor to keep the two sides separate, Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham said.

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