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Virginia Declared A State Of Emergency Ahead Of The "Unite The Right" Anniversary In Charlottesville

Despite there being no official permits issued for any anniversary events, Charlottesville's city manager says there will be more police on patrol and road closures.

Posted on August 8, 2018, at 6:02 p.m. ET

Stephanie Keith / Reuters

The governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency Wednesday ahead of the anniversary of last year's violent white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville that left one counterprotester dead.

Gov. Ralph Northam's office said in a statement that the purpose of the declaration was to address "the potential impacts of events" in the greater Charlottesville region and outside Washington, DC, over the weekend.

A state of emergency opens up state and local operations to better coordinate while also allocating $2 million in funds pay for any extra enforcement operations. The Virginia National Guard will also be authorized to assist. And Charlottesville Interim City Manager Mike Murphy warned the public to expect a heavy police presence and road closures downtown.

Last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville's Emancipation Park saw violent clashes between hundreds of members of the so-called alt-right and a broad swath of counterprotesters. White nationalist James Alex Fields allegedly ran his car into a crowd of the protesters, injuring dozens and killing 32-year-old Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer. Two law enforcement officers also died in a helicopter crash at a nearby golf course.

Brian Snyder / Reuters

The city has denied all permits for Emancipation Park on the anniversary of Unite the Right, including one for a carnival called the Festival of Schmestival. But local activists have planned several events around the city protesting racism and hoping to help the community heal.

One Unite the Right organizer, Charlottesville resident Jason Kessler, dropped a lawsuit over a permit for an anniversary rally and has instead decamped to Washington, DC. The National Park Service accepted his application for a permit; however, counterprotesters have also planned several events in DC over the weekend.

Another organizer, white nationalist Richard Spencer, said he will not attend Kessler's rally and encouraged others to abstain as well, so it's unclear how confrontational the events may get.

I will not be attending the #UniteTheRight this weekend. And I recommend that others do not as well. I know that many have good intentions in going, but a rally like this does make sense at this time. I don't know exactly what will happen, but it probably will not be good.


Ralph Northam's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.