Multiple events are planned to mark the anniversary of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, which resulted in the deaths of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and Virginia State Police Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, III and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.
The 2017 Charlottesville rally, which drew white supremacists and neo-Nazis, was originally meant to protest the planned removal of a statue depicting Confederate General Robert E. Lee that still stands. During last year's rallies, law enforcement officers stood by while white supremacists clashed with counter-protesters, a response that allowed the violence to spiral out of control, an independent investigation found.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and D.C. declared states of emergency, citing the "potential impacts of events" in the area.
"We the people of Washington, D.C. say unequivocally that we denounce hate, we announce that we denounce anti-Semitism, and we denounce the rhetoric that we expect to hear this Sunday", said Mayor Muriel Bowser. Charlottesville dedicated part of the street to the 32-year-old who was struck when a auto plowed into a crowd protesting the white nationalist rally.
Charlottesville will have a secured area around downtown with security checkpoints that limit access to pedestrians. Many students say they are upset that the university did not warn them about this in advance, especially since it falls as many students are moving in for the new school year.
A white supremacist rally is set for Sunday in Washington, D.C., but it is not clear if the National Socialist Movement will be participating.
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Some of the widely varied counterprotest groups are launching their efforts with interfaith events and speakers at Freedom Plaza, which is along Pennsylvania Avenue on the other side of the White House from the white nationalists' planned march route.
"I don't know exactly what will happen, but it probably will not be good", tweeted Richard Spencer, a leader of the so-called "alt-right" movement, who said he would be staying away from the rally.
Protest groups are getting ready for a possible clash in the nation's capital, while law enforcement in DC prepares to gear up for the potentially tense clash. Organizers said that at approximately 3:30 p.m., participants will begin marching to Lafayette Square to voice their opposition to the white nationalists and white supremacists who are meeting there.
Charlottesville Police Department Chief RaShall Brackney has said at previous s that Kessler's from federal court for an injunction to allow an anniversary rally in Market Street Park Aug. 12 would not affect the region's plans for the weekend.
The statue and the park in which it's located were the center of last year's Unite the Right rally. "I certainly predict that they will be much more professional and much more even-handed and do much more to contribute to safety", he said. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.
Kessler, a Charlottesville resident and University of Virginia graduate, sued Charlottesville after city officials denied him a permit for an anniversary event, according to the Associated Press.