State of emergency declared in Charlottesville for 'Unite the Right' anniversary


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

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham answer questions from reporters about the city's preparations for the white nationalist-led rally marking the one year anniversary of 2017 Charlottesville "Unite the Right" protests in Washington, U.S., August 9, 2018.

"I am urging Virginians to make alternative plans to engaging with planned demonstrations of hate, should those arise", said Northam.

Lisa Woolfork, a University of Virginia professor and Black Lives Matter Charlottesville organizer, said police are mounting a "huge, overwhelming show of force to compensate for last year's inaction".

White nationalists held a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville past year, billing it as a protest over the removal of a statue honouring a commander of the Confederate Army, the losing side in the US Civil War.

Virginia State Police Superintendent Gary Settle said more than 700 state police will be activated during the weekend and "state police is fully prepared to act" to prevent any incidents like past year.

The declaration that was issued on Wednesday will also allocate a whopping $2million to pay for response measures. Kessler backed off plans for another rally this summer and turned his focus to an event in Washington, D.C.

"I think 400 is optimistic but we'll see", he said told NewsHour, after reading Kessler's permit application.

The organizer of "Unite the Right 2", Jason Kessler, was denied a permit earlier this year to hold an anniversary rally in Charlottesville's Emancipation Park.

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Government and police officials in the nation's capital say they are confident the city can manage this weekend's planned white nationalist rally without violence.

Kessler recently abandoned his lawsuit, but told the AP he is pressing ahead with plans for the August 12 rally in Washington, D.C.

Last year's Unite the Right rally ended with violent clashes between marchers and counter-protesters.

Police are expecting people with the Unite the Right group to travel from the Vienna Metro Station to Foggy Bottom and then head to Lafayette Square.

"There will certainly be provocateurs trying to get a reaction out of you by trying to stick cameras in peoples' faces, yelling, etc", the Unite the Right website stated.

"There is no intention to accommodate one side or the other", Newsham said. The remarks sparked criticism from across the political spectrum as the Republican president refused to condemn the white nationalists.

A release on the emergency declarations said this is to address the potential impacts of events in and around Charlottesville and Washington, D.C. that will take place this weekend.

The protest rally at Freedom Plaza is scheduled to begin at noon and will include speakers and music. The group paraded through the University of Virginia's campus, shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans. The violence reached its peak at 1:42 p.m. when James Alex Fields rammed his auto into a crowd of counterprotesters. He is charged separately in federal court with hate crimes.