Va. preps for ‘pro-white’ march and counterprotests, as group signals it may not take Metro after all

WASHINGTON — As state and local leaders in Virginia prepare for possible rallies marking one year since white supremacists marched on Charlottesville, new details are emerging about plans for a “pro-white” march in Washington Sunday.

In an email to potential attendees, organizer Jason Kessler suggested that, despite the public debate over separate railcars for rallygoers, the group may end up taking a bus to and from Vienna Metro Station to Foggy Bottom Sunday instead of the train, depending on how the day develops.

Clashes between the group and counterprotesters have been a key concern in security planning, and D.C. police, Metro Transit Police and other agencies involved hope to keep the groups separated.

Plans for transportation, the rally itself and the counterprotests remain in flux pending formal approval of any of the permits that have been requested.

“If something happens in Washington, it can easily affect Northern Virginia, and so we’ve had those discussions,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday on WRVA Radio.

“I think they can use the usual means of transportation, but I don’t think anybody’s going to go out of their way to accommodate some of these groups,” he said.

Counterprotesters have also planned events in Charlottesville to mark one year since a man police say had ties to the white supremacist groups who marched there accelerated a car into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer. Two state troopers were also killed when their helicopter crashed.

Kessler has promised not to organize any large actions in Charlottesville this weekend, and said in the email that he is only focused on Sunday evening’s event across from the White House. Opponents are not sure whether to believe him.

Charlottesville preparations

Virginia and Charlottesville have learned from mistakes made last year, Northam said, with planning this time including law enforcement, the Department of Emergency Management, the National Guard, and the city.

“Everybody has been involved, and we feel like we’re very well prepared if anything happens in Charlottesville like it did last year,” Northam said. “We don’t ever want to relive that tragedy again.”

“A group of white supremacists marched in with their torches and banners and weapons and spewing hatred and bigotry,” Northam added.

In addition to this weekend’s events, two groups that support Confederate monuments plan to protest in Richmond next Sunday in opposition to the city’s Monument Ave. Commission’s recommendation to remove the statue honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

“We’re prepared in Charlottesville, we’re prepared in Northern Virginia, and then obviously next weekend there’s also some talk about some folks coming back to Richmond, so we’re paying close attention to that as well,” Northam said.

  • Q: When is the primary? When do polls open?
  • The 2020 Democratic presidential primary in Virginia is March 3, 2020. Polls are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.

  • Q: What's on the ballot? Who can vote?
  • Only the candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president will be on the ballot. The list of candidates on the ballot includes some candidates who have already dropped out of the race.

    Virginia’s is an open primary — meaning any registered voter can cast a ballot regardless of their party registration.

    The Virginia Republican Party has notified the Virginia Department of Elections it will not hold a primary on March 3. President Donald Trump is running for reelection and is expected to be officially selected as the state party’s nominee at a party convention.

    Democratic and Republican primaries to select candidates for the U.S. House and Senate are set to take place June 9, 2020.

  • Q: What do I need to vote?
  • You must have been registered to vote at least 22 days before Election Day.

    When you show up to the polls, you will need to show a photo ID to vote in person. Acceptable forms of ID include:

    • Virginia driver’s license
    • Virginia DMV-issued photo ID
    • United States passport
    • Employer-issued photo ID
    • Virginia Voter Photo ID card
    • Other U.S. or Virginia government-issued photo ID
    • Student photo ID issued by a school, college or university located in Virginia
    • Tribal enrollment or other tribal photo ID

    If you show up to vote and don’t have ID, you will have to vote using a provisional ballot.

  • Q: Voting absentee?
  • The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is Feb. 25. You can apply online for one, and register to vote if you aren’t already, at the Virginia Department of Election’s website, as well as in-person or by email, fax and standard mail.

    If you already signed up to vote absentee and received your ballot, you must turn it in to your voter registration office by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Absentee voters can also check the status of their ballot through the state’s online citizen portal.

  • Q: Need accommodations?
  • If you are 65 or older or you have a physical disability, you can vote from your car at your polling place on Election Day. The department of elections recommends you bring a helper with you who can go into the polling place and request curbside assistance.

  • Q: Who else is voting?
  • A lot of people. They don’t call it Super Tuesday for nothing. Virginia is one of 14 states plus American Samoa that are voting March 3.

  • Q: Will WTOP have election coverage for Maryland and D.C.?
  • Absolutely! A similar set of FAQs will be set up for both. Stay tuned.

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