CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Gov. Ralph Northam has issued a state of emergency ahead of possible demonstrations this weekend to mark the anniversary of the deadly events in Charlottesville last year. The order will allow local and state resources to "pre-stage and coordinate response to keep the peace," the governor's office said.
Officials said multiple events are planned to mark the “Unite the Right” rally anniversary, which ultimately led to the deaths of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and Virginia State Police Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen III and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.
“Virginia continues to mourn the three Virginians who lost their lives in the course of the demonstrations a year ago. We hope the anniversary of those events passes peacefully,” Northam said. “I am urging Virginians to make alternative plans to engaging with planned demonstrations of hate, should those arise. Declaring this state of emergency in advance of the anniversary and the related planned events will help us ensure that the state and the city have all available resources to support emergency responders in case they are needed.”
As a result, Northam said the state of emergency declarations "will enhance planning and cooperative response efforts" that have been in the works since March.
“We have learned many lessons from the tragic events of August 12, 2017. For the anniversary of that difficult August weekend which resulted in three lost lives, the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia are working closely with law enforcement and public safety agencies from around Virginia to plan for potential events and to keep our city safe from violence,” said Charlottesville’s Interim City Manager Mike Murphy. “We join the Commonwealth in declaring a state of emergency in advance of these planned events to ensure all available resources are in place and that we are fully prepared to keep the peace in Charlottesville August 10–12.”
The state of emergency declaration authorizes the Virginia National Guard to assign forces to assist in security efforts. It also allows the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Health, Virginia National Guard and other state agencies to be deployed to Charlottesville and Northern Virginia. It further activates the Virginia Emergency Operations Center to coordinate state resources and allocates $2 million to fund the response.
Security area, items prohibited in Charlottesville
Officials in Charlottesville said a "defined security area" downtown with two entry points for pedestrians to access the security area will go into effect Friday evening through Monday morning.
"Law enforcement personnel will be positioned at the entry points at 1st Street S & Water Street and at 2nd Street SE & Water Street," officials said.
Additionally, public safety officials released a list of items that are prohibited in the downtown security area:
BB Guns, Pellet Guns, Air Rifles or Pistols, Paintball Guns, Pellet 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.”
As a result, officials said anyone who has a prohibited item will not be allowed into the downtown safety area.
Additionally, police warned that anyone that violated the restrictions could face criminal charges.
Officials also the state's code that prohibits wearing masks in public will be enforced and that violators could face a Class 6 felony.
Officials said Charlottesville Police and their partner agencies will remain vigilant in anticipation of planned events this weekend.