Washington D.C. is bracing for violence at today's "Unite the Right II" rally marking the one-year anniversary of last year's deadly event in Charlottesville, VA.
Around 400 white nationalists are expected in D.C.'s Lafayette Square based on the event's permit, however far fewer are actually expected to show up. Meanwhile, around 1,500 counter-protesters will be staging themselves at various downtown locations, including the same park as the white nationalists.
Police are enforcing a complete ban on firearms in and around the demonstration areas on Sunday, reports Fortune, including anyone with a concealed carry permit, said Washington Metro Police chief Peter Newsham.
"Every police action that you will see on Sunday will be done with the ultimate goal of ensuring the safety of everyone that attends," said the chief.
In anticipation of violence, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency, stating “I am urging Virginians to make alternative plans" to avoid the event- while the Alt-Right Exposed blog noted that a left-wing "Resist" group called Shut It Down is planning to confront attendees.
Meanwhile, protesters gathered a little over 100 miles away in Charlottesville, VA to mark the anniversary of last year's deadly event which resulted in the death of 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer after a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd she was in.
With no white nationalists around to protest, participants have turned it into an anti-police event.
"Last year I was terrified of violence from the Nazis, and this year I’m terrified of violence from the police," Black Lives Matter organizer Lisa Woolford, an English professor at the University of Virginia told the Daily Progress.
“Why are you in riot gear? We don’t see no riot here,” activists in Charlottesville chanted Saturday evening, while also becoming aggressive with a local news crew covering the protests.
Shortly before a pre-planned evening rally to mark the anniversary of a campus confrontation between torch-carrying white nationalists and counterprotesters, activists unfurled a banner that said, “Last year they came w/ torches. This year they come w/ badges.” -AP
Authorities have banned skateboards, paintball guns, bats, sticks, clubs, bear spray and flying drones from Charlottesville this weekend. That said, there's nothing stopping anyone from open-carrying an AR-15.
‘Under Virginia law we cannot regulate firearms,’ city spokesman Brian Wheeler told DailyMail.com.
Charlottesville city elders issued a list of items that will be banned from an 18-block area in the city center all weekend just as hundreds of state police officers descended on the university town, determined to prevent a repeat of last year’s violence. -DailyMail.com
"Lengths of lumber or wood" are included on the banned list. "Metal beverage or food cans or containers’ are also forbidden, as are glass bottles."
The full list of prohibited items: "BB guns, pellet guns, air rifles or pistols, paintball guns, nunchucks, tasers, stun guns, heavy gauge metal chains, lengths of lumber or wood, poles, bricks, rocks, metal beverage or food cans or containers, glass bottles, 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 considered an “implement of riot.”"
Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, 34, is holding the event at D.C.'s Lafayette Square after being denied a permit in Charlottesville. Kessler, a recent leftist "Occupy" activist who had a Jewish girlfriend and two African roommates, has been accused of being an opportunist. In advance of Sunday's event, Kessler called into Stormfront Action - a white-nationalist online radio show that apparently doesn't mind Kessler's race-mixing past.
During the hour-long interview last month, he unloaded a litany of hate-fueled grievances: The police in Charlottesville, he said, “screwed” him and other white nationalists last year. The media have turned him into “Damian, the son of Lucifer.” White people are “up against a wall.” Jews, he charged, “control the currency,” and are “over-represented in Congress and the Supreme Court.”
“What’s happening to us is unjust right now,” Kessler told Stormfront Action listeners. “That’s why I don’t want to back down.” -The Daily Progress
Kessler has lost support from prominent white nationalists such as Richard Spencer, while friends have also severed ties - saying they don't recognize the activist they once knew as an Obama supporter.
His father, in his first interview, told The Washington Post that he vehemently disapproves of Kessler’s actions and has tried to persuade him to stop. -The Daily Progress
President Trump condemned racism in a Saturday tweet which read: "The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!"
After last year's deadly rally in Charlottesville, Trump drew condemnation after he said "I think there is blame on both sides."
Conservatives have similarly pushed back against white nationalism. Dinesh D'Souza, for example, told C-Span on August 3rd that the Charlottesville event does not represent the right.
“This is really, I would say, the trump card, and I use that terminology in the movie, because, I have uncovered an aspect of Charlottesville, that is not in the public debate, and that is… the whole point of Charlottesville, there was a tragedy in Charlottesville, and that won’t change. Somebody was run over and killed, and so it was a tragic event in that sense.”
“What I am contesting is the meaning of that event. Because, from the left’s point of view this was right wing white supremacy, and that was the whole point for Trump to condemn it. I deny that. I deny that, and I deny it, based on a close analysis of who was there and who these white supremacists are, and in this book, “Death of a Nation, I go through the list.”
“Jason Kessler, the organizer of Charlottesville, turns out to be an Obama activist, and an Occupy Wall Street guy.” -Alt Right Exposed
“Think about this. Does it make sense, someone who is an Obama voter and supporter becomes a white supremacist? That makes no sense to me. You think the media would be, like ‘Let’s check this guy out.’ , but there was a Charlottesville paper that did. It looked into his background, and it turns out he has a long left-wing history. They interviewed his girlfriend, and she goes ‘he broke up with me because I am too conservative.’ This guy, Jason Kessler.”
And as the Gateway Pundit's Cassandra Fairbanks reports, "supporters of President Donald Trump are taking a firm stance against it and urging people on the right to donate to the Heather Heyer Foundation as a show of goodwill."
As the next event looms, and people in the media — and even rally attendees — attempt to blur the line between the people who would attend such an event and your every day Trump voter, many on the right wanted to strongly come out against what Unite the Right represents
The large group of outspoken Trump supporters banded together and decided that the purest way to condemn the event would be to ask followers to donate at least $8.12, representing August 12, the day she died, to the scholarship fund in Heyer’s name. -The Gateway Pundit
Also noted by Fairbanks was author and journalist Mike Cernovich's opposition to the event, who said of Jason Kessler:
“Jason Kessler is a toad. He looks like the kind of creepy person that you could imagine staring into someone’s bedroom late at night. We of course want nothing to do with him and recognize that he is so desperate for attention that he will use the death of a woman — and step over her body — as a way to get it. That is disgusting and he’s a loser,” Cernovich said.
Also voicing his opposition is conservative film director and producer Robby Starbuck, who urged people not to give the rally any attention.
“The Republican Party has a proud history of anti-racist activism and progress. That’s why what we’re seeing happen with White Supremacists marching in D.C. is so distressing. It reminds me of the pain Heather Heyer’s mom must be feeling. I believe in advancing progress and extinguishing hate so I’ve decided the best way forward is to remove the outrage and instead take action. I believe in taking action by ignoring these hateful racists. Turn your backs on them. Let them be the sad splinter group that they are. Let’s remove what they crave the most: Attention,” Starbuck said. “Instead I choose to honor a wonderful young woman who lost her life senselessly just one year ago. I urge everyone who can to take part and donate $8.12 to Heather Heyer’s scholarship fund, together we can counteract the evil that seeks to divide us. Together we are a force for change, do not let hateful people divide us. We can disagree but at the end of the day we are all Americans.” -Via The Gateway Pundit
With that, the day is young in both Charlottesville and D.C. With any luck, they'll be non-events.