Many in our region are justifiably concerned about what might happen this weekend, August 11 and 12. The good news is that much has been done during the past year to prepare our city and region for possible disruption. Various court cases have led to consent orders that prohibit most all of the “Unite the Right” groups from returning. The City has denied permits to many groups in hopes of ensuring the safety of our residents. The Virginia State Police have been here for months, helping to organize a unified command to respond to any illegal or violent activities.
The First Amendment guarantees us all the right to assemble, speak our minds, and petition our government. The City of Charlottesville, University of Virginia, Albemarle County, and Governor of Virginia are working very hard to protect these rights while keeping everyone safe.
What You May See, What You May Expect, And How It Will Be Different Than Last Year
- Virginia State Police will be in town beginning on Wednesday; most will be dressed in regular uniform, but some may be dressed in protective gear. No badges will be covered.
- The unified command (city, county, UVA, and state) will conduct a practice “table top” scenario for all of the senior first responders and government actors this week.
- As an additional precaution, state government may issue a “state of emergency” declaration before the weekend—not because violence or disruption is imminent, but so that the unified command will have the legal authority if it becomes needed to mobilize forces more effectively.
- The Virginia National Guard is available, if their help is needed.
- The city’s ordinance prohibiting items that could cause harm in a crowd if used improperly will be robustly enforced for the weekend at any gatherings, and law enforcement officers will be policing violations of law based solely on behavior/action, not on the message(s) being expressed.
- City and State police will enforce the law by making arrests. Safety is important and laws will be enforced to prevent people from being injured.
- Real-time monitoring of activity around the city will occur throughout the weekend.
- Road closures and No-Parking zones will take effect on Friday at 6:00 pm, and continue through Monday at 6:00 am.
- Various city buildings in the downtown area, such as the Transit Center/bus transfer area, will be closed, and other activities have been canceled or moved.
- The city’s special website page #ResilientCville (www.charlottesville.org/resilientcville) and the city’s Twitter account (@cvillecityhall) will be important sources of information this week and this weekend. You may also follow my Twitter feed (@deltoscano), but the city’s online media will have the most updated information.
- The University of Virginia has also set up a dedicated website page for its operations and plans for this weekend.
- Together Cville has created a list of events occurring this week and this weekend and is also sharing event postings on its Facebook page. I will be speaking at the NAACP forum on Sunday afternoon, and plan to attend other events earlier in the day.
The level of preparedness and coordination is much higher than last year. We all have a responsibility to keep calm and report activity that appears suspicious. When in doubt, call 911.