Charlottesville prepares for white nationalist rally anniversary

State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
John Miska
State Police escort local resident, John Miska, red hat, after he was arrested in the locked down downtown area in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. Miska purchased razor blades, which are banned items, in a downtown drugstore. On the the anniversary of white supremacist violence, state and local authorities framed the weekend’s heightened security as a necessary precaution. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
A visitor carries a sign as State Police lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
A visitor carries a sign as State Police lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
Heather Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, attended the Saturday morning event at the University of Virginia. All 650 tickets for "The Hope that Summons Us," which was held in Old Cabell Hall auditorium, were sold out. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, attended the Saturday morning event at the University of Virginia. All 650 tickets for “The Hope that Summons Us,” which was held in Old Cabell Hall auditorium, were sold out. (WTOP/Max Smith)
The sidewalk leading up to the Lawn and Cabell Hall was closed. (WTOP/Max Smith)
The sidewalk leading up to the Lawn and Cabell Hall was closed. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith )
A "No Trespassing" sign surrounds the area by the University of Virginia's rotunda. (WTOP/Max Smith)
A “No Trespassing” sign surrounds the area by the University of Virginia’s rotunda. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
A guard stands at the rotunda in the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. The area has been fenced off in the wake of the first year since white nationalists circled protesters on campus. (WTOP/Max Smith)
A guard stands at the rotunda in the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. The area has been fenced off in the wake of the first year since white nationalists circled protesters on campus. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, multiple white nationalist groups march with torches through the UVA campus in Charlottesville, Va.   Hundreds of people chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.  (Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via AP)
In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, multiple white nationalist groups march with torches through the UVA campus in Charlottesville, Va. (Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via AP) (AP/Mykal McEldowney)
Part of market street is dedicated to 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of protesters in last August's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Part of Market Street is dedicated to 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters in last year’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)
People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP) (AP/Ryan M. Kelly)
Messages and flowers line Heather Heyer Way in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Messages and flowers line Heather Heyer Way in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
FILE- In this Aug. 13, 2017 file photo, a photo of Heather Heyer rests among a makeshift memorial in Charlottesville, Va. Heyer was struck and killed by a car while protesting a white nationalist rally on Aug. 12. The city of Charlottesville is preparing to dedicate a downtown street in her honor. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
In this Aug. 13, 2017 file photo, a photo of Heather Heyer rests among a makeshift memorial in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) (AP/Steve Helber)
 Barriers are set up to turn the downtown mall in Charlottesville into a locked down area. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Barriers are set up to turn the downtown mall in Charlottesville into a locked-down area. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith )
Rescue personnel help injured people after a car ran into a large group of protesters after an white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Rescue personnel help injured people after a car ran into a large group of protesters after an white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
Mesh fencing was placed around the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Mesh fencing was placed around the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they guard the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they guard the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
"No parking" signs dot Charlottesville. (WTOP/Max Smith)
“No parking” signs dot Charlottesville. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
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State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
John Miska
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
A visitor carries a sign as State Police lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
State Police patrol the road in front of Market Street park with the state of Confederate General Robert E. Lee as they lock down the downtown area in anticipation of the anniversary of last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Heather Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, attended the Saturday morning event at the University of Virginia. All 650 tickets for "The Hope that Summons Us," which was held in Old Cabell Hall auditorium, were sold out. (WTOP/Max Smith)
The sidewalk leading up to the Lawn and Cabell Hall was closed. (WTOP/Max Smith)
A "No Trespassing" sign surrounds the area by the University of Virginia's rotunda. (WTOP/Max Smith)
A guard stands at the rotunda in the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. The area has been fenced off in the wake of the first year since white nationalists circled protesters on campus. (WTOP/Max Smith)
In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, multiple white nationalist groups march with torches through the UVA campus in Charlottesville, Va.   Hundreds of people chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.  (Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via AP)
Part of market street is dedicated to 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of protesters in last August's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. (WTOP/Max Smith)
People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)
Messages and flowers line Heather Heyer Way in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. (WTOP/Max Smith)
FILE- In this Aug. 13, 2017 file photo, a photo of Heather Heyer rests among a makeshift memorial in Charlottesville, Va. Heyer was struck and killed by a car while protesting a white nationalist rally on Aug. 12. The city of Charlottesville is preparing to dedicate a downtown street in her honor. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
 Barriers are set up to turn the downtown mall in Charlottesville into a locked down area. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Rescue personnel help injured people after a car ran into a large group of protesters after an white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Mesh fencing was placed around the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. (WTOP/Max Smith)
White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they guard the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
"No parking" signs dot Charlottesville. (WTOP/Max Smith)

WASHINGTON — Charlottesville, Virginia, braces for the one-year mark of the deadly clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters, and the city is responding by holding anti-racism events this weekend.

“The Hope that Summons Us: A Morning of Reflection and Renewal” at the University of Virginia was a sold-out event Saturday morning, seating 650 that included poetry readings, music and a moment a silence to reflect on the events that took place last year. University President Jim Ryan spoke about the pain the city experienced following the rally in Charlottesville, honoring Heather Heyer and Virginia State Police troopers who died on Aug. 12 of last year.

Ryan praised the students and others who were at the Thomas Jefferson statue on the university’s campus surrounded by “neo-Nazis and white supremacists.” He said the clash “symbolized the ongoing struggle between our aspirations and our reality” and called the marchers at last year’s rally “an extreme group of lost souls.”

Ahead of Saturday’s events in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia closed the Lawn Friday night out of an abundance of caution; it will stay closed until noon Sunday. Entrance to the Lawn is limited to Lawn residents.

A statement from the university said that restricting access to the Lawn will help them “continue to prepare for and secure both the UVA-sponsored events and a student-organized rally on the North Plaza of the Rotunda” that will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday.

The Thomas Jefferson statue was also sealed off and guarded Friday night, as the university tightened security for the “morning of reflection.” U.Va. was the scene of a torch-lit march the night before the first Unite the Right rally last year, where hundreds of white nationalists, carrying Tiki torches, gathered at the rotunda and surrounded a group of counterprotesters around the Jefferson statue.  

In downtown Charlottesville, barriers were set up at the Downtown Mall, turning it into a locked-down area that can only be accessed through security checkpoints until the end of the weekend.

Local businesses in the downtown area put out signs stating who they would serve including one that read, “if equal and diversity aren’t for you then neither are we.”

On Friday night, chalk messages and flowers lined the area where Heather Heyer was killed a year ago. Charlottesville dedicated part of the street to the 32-year-old who was struck when a car plowed into a crowd protesting the white nationalist rally.

Fencing and rails have been placed on Confederate monuments throughout the city. The Stonewall Jackson monument near the courthouse has been barricaded; mesh fencing has been placed on the Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park.

No permits have been granted for white nationalist groups in Charlottesville but a counterprotest group has planned a protest Saturday night against the university for what it says is failure to stand up strongly enough against white supremacy.

Last December, “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler applied for a permit in Charlottesville for the one-year mark, but the city denied his request, which led to a lawsuit that he eventually dropped.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville declared states of emergency earlier in the week.

The Virginia state of emergency ordered by Northam will allow state agencies to quickly mobilize resources to aid local authorities, the governor’s office said. The order also allows Virginia National Guard to assist in security efforts.

Since last year’s rally, city officials have ween working on a public safety plan. Charlottesville city spokesman Brian Wheeler told WTOP that they have a “comprehensive and unified plan that’s in place.”

Among the safety measures are restrictions to parking and access to the downtown area, and restrictions to what participants can bring to an event.

A report on last year’s rally found city and state police weren’t able to communicate by radio during the unrest because they didn’t properly coordinate ahead of time.

Wheeler added, “We’ve integrated our communications systems with the Virginia State Police and we’ve learned some real lessons about how to secure our downtown and especially what is now called Market Street Park.”

Lisa Woolfork, a University of Virginia professor and Black Lives Matter Charlottesville organizer, told the Associated Press that police are mounting a “huge, overwhelming show of force to compensate for last year’s inaction.”

“Last year, I was afraid of the Nazis. This year, I’m afraid of the police,” Woolfork said. “This is not making anyone that I know feel safe.”

Grace Aheron, an organizer for Showing Up for Racial Justice, said a “militarized police presence” doesn’t make the city safer.

“I’m not looking forward to what that’s going to look like this weekend,” she said.

WTOP’s Max Smith and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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