RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Northam said that he believes in the right to assemble and the right to bear arms but that there have been threats of violence made on the Virginia Capitol.
To try and prevent a violent protest, Richmond will be in a state of emergency from Friday at 5 p.m. until Tuesday at 5 p.m.
During a speech Wednesday afternoon, Northam stated that there have been credible threats of violent and armed confrontations for Monday’s rally. The threats were analyzed and were found to be similar to those before the Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally.
Some of these threats were found on the darknet, which Northam said is used by violent hate groups and white nationalists outside of Virginia.
This weekend, Virginia State Police, Capitol Police and Richmond Police, as well as other first responders, are working together to ensure safety ahead of Monday’s protest.
“Violence will not be tolerated. And if that is your group or your intention on Monday, then you are not welcome," said Col. Gary Settle, the superintendent of Virginia State Police.
Streets immediately surrounding Capitol grounds will be closed and there’s going to be additional fencing around the Capitol building.
On Monday, there will only be one public entrance at the gate near N 9th Street and Grace Street, where all visitors will have to go through a security checkpoint with metal detectors.
Northam is asking those who come Monday to peacefully assemble. He also asked those demonstrators to pass along their message of nonviolence.
“I call on them to disavow anyone who wishes to use Monday’s rally to advance a violent agenda,” Northam said. "And I call on them to discourage people from other states from coming to Virginia with violent intent. Hate, intimidation and violence have no place here.”
Nonessential personnel are being asked to not come to work on Monday, which is also a federal holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
No weapons, including firearms, bats, chains, etc., will be allowed on Capitol grounds.
“It makes no sense to ban every other weapon and allow firearms, when intelligence shows a threat of armed militia groups storming our Capitol," Northam said.
The public can sign up to get weather, traffic and emergency incident email or text alerts through the Virginia State Capitol Alert Network. Capitol officials will also post updates about traffic, security, etc. on social media if you search for: @VACapitol2020.
Click here for the full text of the governor’s executive order.
Below is the full news conference from Wednesday:
Gov. Northam expected to declare a temporary emergency
Watch as Gov. Northam is expected to declare a temporary emergency, banning all weapons, including guns, from Capitol Square ahead of next week's massive gun rights rally. https://10.wsls.com/2TshoRiPosted by WSLS 10 / WSLS.com on Wednesday, January 15, 2020