Charlottesville plans ‘softer police presence’ on 2nd anniversary of white nationalist attack

Two years after a white nationalist plowed a car into a group of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing Heather Heyer, the city is planning “a softer police presence” for new “Unity Days” events marking the anniversary.

The city’s response to the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally, over Confederate monuments and statues, was bungled and disjointed; as people marched against hate on the anniversary of the white nationalist rally last year, the city was essentially on lockdown.

This year, the city promises a calmer, more unified plan for the weekend of Aug. 12.

“The City of Charlottesville is working closely with state and regional partners to ensure the public’s safety during this time of healing and reflection. We have a single, unified and flexible plan to support the planned Unity Days activities and any other public safety needs in the region,” the city said in a statement.

No major street closures or schedule changes are planned.

“Citizens of Charlottesville and visitors can anticipate seeing a softer police presence throughout the city, as compared to 2017-2018, with an emphasis on motorcycle, bicycle and foot patrols. Additional resources from the Charlottesville Fire Department and other agencies will be available to assist at local events to ensure the overall safety and security of our community,” the city said.

The Unity Days events are planned annually in Charlottesville going forward, “to educate, inspire, and honor people in our community to create movement towards healing and unity on a path for economic and racial justice.”

In addition to events around the Aug. 11 anniversary of white nationalists’ torch-lit march across the University of Virginia grounds and the Aug. 12 anniversary of the main white nationalist rally and car attack, the city has held several dozen related events over the last few months.

Monuments honoring Confederate leaders still stand in Charlottesville. City leaders still hope to remove them.

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