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article imageRichmond bracing for repeat of Charlottesville at gun rally

By Karen Graham     Jan 19, 2020 in Politics
Richmond - State officials and U.S. hate-monitoring groups are warning about the potential for violence ahead of a gun-rights rally in Virginia that’s expected to draw a mix of militias, firearms advocates and white supremacists to Richmond.
From the looks of things, according to the Associated Press, if social media posts are to be believed, the convoys and militias are coming - headed to Virginia's capital, Richmond. And of all the days to pick, it's Martin Luther King Jr. Day - a day commemorated across the nation in remembrance of the great civil rights leader.
The groups descending on Richmond won't be here to celebrate the accomplishments of Martin Luther King, though. They're focused on arming all Virginians - and more to the point - to protest plans by the new Democratic majority in the General Assembly to pass gun-control laws.
Each year on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday the Virginia Citizens Defense League, an influential grassroots gun-rights organization holds a lobby day, typically attended by several hundred gun enthusiasts who rally and meet with lawmakers to discuss legislation. This year will probably be different.
Thomas Jefferson designed the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.
Thomas Jefferson designed the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.
Varmin CC BY-SA 2.0)
Governor Ralph Northam has temporarily banned weapons from the grounds of the State Capitol and declared a state of emergency, which the state Supreme Court upheld on Friday after the ban was challenged by two gun rights groups. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued temporary flight restrictions for Richmond airspace, meaning it is illegal to fly planes or drones above the city on Monday.
And to make matters worse, or perhaps to just enflame the groups attending the rally, which is expected to draw over 10,000 people, President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday afternoon, tweeting: "Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!"
Vanity Fair reports that Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund called Trump’s comment “irresponsible and utterly, truly unconscionable.”
Here is a quick look at the groups who will be attending the rally in Richmond:
The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), has been a leading force behind Monday’s rally. The group has stressed that the rally is to be peaceful. “The eyes of the nation and the world are on Virginia and VCDL right now and we must show them that gun owners are not the problem,” the group wrote in a recent email to its members.
Gun Owners of America is a pro-gun group that describes itself as the only “no-compromise” gun lobby in Washington and enjoys a loyal following. They joined the VCDL to seek an injunction against enforcement of Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order banning guns from the Capitol Square
The National Rifle Association, or NRA is the best-known gun owners association in the country and has been very influential in curtailing any legislation to curb gun sales. They are staying away from Monday's rally, so they say.
Wayne LaPierre  CEO of the powerful National Rifle Association in the US  is seen speaking at the gr...
Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the powerful National Rifle Association in the US, is seen speaking at the group's convention on April 26, 2019; he appears to have forced out NRA President Oliver North in an angry public dispute
SCOTT OLSON, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
The Oath Keepers has become one of the country's largest anti-government organizations, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. They were in on the 2014 standoff between federal officials and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy over grazing rights on federal land.
Not only is this group coming to Virginia's capital but it is sending trainers to Virginia to organize and train “armed posses and militia.”
“It is NOT just about one day at a rally. It’s about organizing and training up Virginians in each town and county to make their Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties truly strong, united, and capable of actually defending their lives, liberty, and property,” the group’s website says.
White nationalists  neo-Nazis and members of the 'alt-right' exchange insults with counter...
White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the 'alt-right' exchange insults with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017
CHIP SOMODEVILLA, GETTY/AFP/File
Three Percenter Movement is rather new, having formed in 2008. On its website, they say they are not an anti-government militia but “we will defend ourselves when necessary.” The Three Percenters get their name from the belief that just 3 percent of the colonists rose up to fight the British. They have vowed to resist any government that infringes on the U.S. Constitution.
White supremacists need no introduction. J.J. MacNab, a fellow at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, told the Associated Press she didn’t expect large numbers of white supremacists to attend the Richmond Rally. But she doesn't put it past them to not get in the limelight.
"It’s going to be a big event — they want to be part of it. They’re desperate to do Charlottesville 2.0,” she said, referring to the 2017 rally that descended into violence.
More about Richmond, gun rights rally, charlottesville, Gov Ralph Northam, no guns allowed
 
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