Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Trump urges peace on Charlottesville rally anniversary

Trump urges peace on Charlottesville rally anniversary

Charlottesville has refused to grant a permit for another "Unite the Right" rally, after last year's event devolved into violence when police ended up pushing together white nationalists and "antifa" counter-protesters, instead of separating them.

According to National Parks Service, a permit for a counterprotest was also approved on Thursday. A few days after the rally, Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk told Bloomberg that the site had quietly rejected white supremacists from making reservations the week before and began deleting suspected white supremacists' accounts after they were informed of the gathering.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville have declared a state of emergency for the anniversary of last year's rally.

Violent clashes erupted at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville on 12 August 2017.

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Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham have called press conferences, in July and August, addressing community concerns.

In Charlottesville, there will be a commemorative gathering and memorial for Heather Heyer, the woman killed when James Alex Fields Jr drove a vehicle into the gathering of counterprotesters previous year. Two state troopers also died that day in a helicopter crash near Charlottesville.

In downtown Charlottesville, barriers were set up at the Downtown Mall, turning it into a locked-down area that can only be accessed through security checkpoints until the end of the weekend.

Other businesses have taken similar approaches and have said they will deny services to attendees of the Unite the Right rally.

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"Unite the Right" organizers have been telling their side to meet at the Vienna Metro station Sunday afternoon to ride into D.C. The Metro system considered using dedicated train cars to shuttle the white supremacists to the Foggy Bottom station, a plan shelved after protest from the Amalgamated Transit Union.

"As we face this invasion of vile and perverted ideology infesting our region, we stand united in our conviction that a diverse and inclusive Maryland is a stronger Maryland", he said. "We have people coming to our city for the sole goal of spewing hate", Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a briefing today.

LaFayette Square, located just north of the White House, is a public park that was part of the original plan for the capital city. Police at last year's event were criticized for being caught off guard by the violence, failing to keep feuding groups apart and not reacting quickly enough as fights broke out. "You also had some very fine people on both sides", he added.

Newsham said the permit allowed for 400 demonstrators, and that overflow zones will be available should more protesters arrive.

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Charlottesville, best known for being home to the state university created by Thomas Jefferson, may seem like an unusual choice for a heated battle involving neo-Nazis, but there was a reason that "Unite the Right" organizers chose the town for their rally. "We hope the anniversary of those events passes peacefully", Northam said in a written release.

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