RICHMOND, Va. – Hundreds of people marched in the "Richmond Stands United for Racial Justice" event from the Maggie Walker monument in Jackson Ward to the statue to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee along the city's iconic Monument Avenue Saturday morning.
That is where a “Heritage not Hate” rally, organized by a group called CSA II: The New Confederate States of America, began around 10 a.m.
“Peaceful group engaging in free speech at the Maggie Walker monument,” Richmond police tweeted.
The march was organized by the Richmond Peace Education Center along with the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.
“We have a sign at the center of this church. Black Lives Matter,” WTVR CBS 6 reporter Laura French said in a Facebook LIVE report.
“Hey, hey. Ho, Ho, Racism has got to go,” protesters chanted in front as the group neared the Lee monument.
Richmond Police prepared for the possibility of opposing groups to arrive and hold a counter-rally. Police blocked off areas of Monument Avenue.
“You can see dump trucks behind this crowd,” French said.
The city placed dump trucks around the perimeter in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy.
Police said they hoped Saturday’s rally and protest remained peaceful, but noted the event came one month after a similar rally in Charlottesville.
“Police in full riot gear. This is preparation. This is reality," French said. "Richmond is not taking any chances."
People from both sides thanked law enforcement.
“The cops are doing a great job," one marcher said. "I don’t feel any aggression coming from them at all."
However, the woman said she did feel aggression from those assembled for the rally.
"There’s clearly a lot more of us than them and that makes me feel good about this city," she said.
Police warned one man with two small children to move back because of the possibility of a stampede.
Laura French talked to folks on both sides.
“The reason these are here is to tell blacks where their place is," one marcher argued.
“I want to learn from history so we don’t make the same mistakes again,” another man said.
Two of the people assembled agreed that they could learn from one another after some prodding by French, shook hands.
“It has been heated. It has been emotional, but it has stayed peaceful," French said.
Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for complete coverage of this important local story.