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Virginia declares state of emergency ahead of anniversary of violent Charlottesville rally

A Virginia State Police officer in riot gear keeps watch from the top of an armored vehicle after car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching through the downtown shopping district on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The car plowed through the crowed following the shutdown of the Unite the Right rally by police after white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the 'alt-right' and counter-protesters clashed near Emancipation Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville declared states of emergency as the anniversary of last year's violent Unite the Right rally approaches this weekend.

The declarations were made to address the “potential impacts” of events in and around Charlottesville and in Washington, D.C., Aug. 10-12, according to an announcement from the city.

The events mark the anniversary of the violent 2017 rally that led to the deaths of three people including two law enforcement officers. Those killed were 32-year-old Heather Heyer, Virginia State Police Trooper Lt. H. Jay Cullen, III, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.

Heyer was killed when James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly drove his car into a crowd of protesters. The two officers died in a helicopter crash while assisting in the response to the protests.

What is being done?

Virginia State Police Superintendent Gary Settle told WCAV-TV that 700 state troopers will be devoted to the Charlottesville area over the weekend. Joining them will be “hundreds of officers” from the Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and University of Virginia police departments.

A city spokesperson told the TV station there will be 1,000 law enforcement officers working in the Charlottesville area this weekend. Also, nearly 300 members of the Virginia National Guard will be on standby.

“Declaring this state of emergency in advance of the anniversary and the related planned events will help us ensure that the state and the city have all available resources to support emergency responders in case they're needed,” Northam, a Democrat, stated in the announcement. “Virginia continues to mourn the three Virginians who lost their lives in the course of the demonstrations a year ago. We hope the anniversary of those events passes peacefully.”

Charlottesville’s interim City Manager Mike Murphy said many lessons were learned from last year’s tragic events.

“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,” he said. “We join the Commonwealth in declaring a state of emergency in advance of these planned events to ensure all available resources are in place and that we are fully prepared to keep the peace in Charlottesville August 10-12.”

What restrictions are in place?

Charlottesville will have a secured area around downtown with security checkpoints that limit access to pedestrians.

Charlottesville also announced a list of items that will not be allowed in the secured area, including:

BB guns, pellet guns, air rifles or pistols, paintball guns, pellet guns, nunchucks, tasers, stun guns, heavy gauge metal chains, lengths of lumber or wood, poles, bricks, rocks, metal beverages or food cans or containers, glass bottle, axes, axe handles, hatchets, ice picks, acidic or caustic materials, hazardous or flammable or combustible liquids, skateboards, swords, knives, daggers, razor blades or other sharp items, metal pipes, pepper or bear spray, mace, aerosol sprays, catapults, wrist rockets, bats, sticks, clubs, drones, explosives, fireworks, open fire or open flames, and any other item that can be considered an "implement of riot."

One last thing…
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