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.

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