Lobby Day protests in Richmond remain peaceful despite threats of violence

RICHMOND, Va. – Peaceful protests wrapped up in Richmond Monday after a much smaller scale Lobby Day, despite a potential threat for violence at state capitols across the country.

People from all across the commonwealth still traveled to the capitol this year, but not nearly as many as we’ve seen in the past.

COVID-19 and security concerns kept a lot of people at home and law enforcement kept Capitol Square shut down.

“Anytime we see First Amendment rights being stepped on, we’ll use our Second Amendment rights,” one gun rights protester told 10 News.

Dozens of gun rights advocates decided a pandemic wasn’t going to stop them from making their voices heard, including a travel nurse 10 News spoke with who wasn’t wearing a mask.

“I took off the month of January to be here in the middle of a pandemic to fight for our rights,” said Christina Baker.

Many protesters were carrying weapons despite the city banning firearms in certain areas.

“We pretty much don’t let them scare us out of doing what we like to do and anywhere rights are being infringed, any groups that rights are being infringed, we’ll defend,” one protester said.

The strongest showing Monday came from the Virginia Citizens Defense League, organizing a caravan that brought people from all over the commonwealth to fight against gun control from their cars.

“We cannot lose that right to self defense. That’s one of the key cornerstones of this country. That life matters. And that you have a right to protect it,” said Philip Van Cleave, who leads the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

A small group of Black Lives Matter protestors also walked around downtown Richmond armed and gathered at the Robert E. Lee monument.

Despite fears of violence, everything remained peaceful.

“I’m here exercising my First Amendment right which is also under attack so that we can defend our second,” Baker said.

Threats of possible violence stretch through Inauguration Day on Wednesday.

The Capitol Square complex here will remain closed through Thursday.

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