‘They’re doing what they need to do’ woman says of police presence in Charlottesville

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The security zone is in full effect in Charlottesville and only pedestrians are allowed access to the Downtown Mall and park containing the Lee statue.

Police are checking everyone as they come in for prohibited items.

Under the watchful eye of snipers, a helicopter, and an endless sea of law enforcement, life went on in the heart of Charlottesville Saturday.

“The security looks good, everything looks in place,” Thurston Brock, who lived outside of Charlottesville in Barboursville, said.

“It feels oppressive, but I think they're doing what they need to do, or what they feel they need to do,” Diane Hellman, who lives in Charlottesville said.

The security zone kicked into high gear Saturday the day before the one year anniversary of a Unite the Right rally that started at the city's controversial Lee statue and bled into the neighboring Downtown Mall where a young woman lost her life when police say a man attending the rally plowed into a crowd of people with his car.

After the tragedy, people criticized the Charlottesville Police for not doing enough to keep things under control.

“It was chaotic. It was ridiculous,” Brock said.

So, even though a second Unite the Right rally is taking place in DC and not Charlottesville this year, nothing is being left to chance in this jewel nestled inside Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge mountains.

“Wish it could have been here last year, because we probably could have prevented a lot of things from happening. So we can't go back to the past, but we can definitely move on from this,” Brock said.