Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville declared states of emergency ahead of the first anniversary of last summer’s white supremacist rally that turned deadly, the Washington Post reports. The declaration, which took effect Wednesday afternoon and could run through Sunday, will increase state and local law enforcement’s capacity to respond to civil unrest that may occur as white nationalists and neo-Nazis and counterdemonstrators mark the rally’s anniversary this weekend. The declaration earmarks $2 million of state money to pay for the response efforts.
The city expects a large crowd for its planned commemoration of the three people who died Aug. 12. Officials are preparing in case other violent clashes break out. “It’s hard to believe it’s been a year ago that we had the tragic events in Charlottesville,” said Col. Gary Settle, superintendent of the Virginia State Police. “And it’s unfortunate we’re here this year planning for potential violence and potential civil unrest again.” The violence at last year’s rally seemingly caught the city flat-footed, raising questions about its preparedness. A scathing independent review criticized the city’s response, and the fallout led to the police chief’s resignation. In downtown Charlottesville this weekend, several streets will be closed to vehicles and police will set up a tightly patrolled security area with just two entry points. It will be illegal for those over 16 to wear masks or other identity-obscuring apparel, and the city has published a lengthy list of items that will be prohibit, ranging from ice picks and swords to catapults and nunchucks. Paintball guns, BB guns and pellet guns are banned, but firearms are not.