Sunday, 17 February, 2019

DC Restaurants Taking Precautions for Weekend Rally

WHSV file image of a line of Virginia State Police troopers at the WHSV file image of a line of Virginia State Police troopers at the"Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville
Melinda Barton | 11 August, 2018, 20:21

Jason Kessler has vowed to press ahead with plans for an August 12 rally in Washington, D.C., after Charlottesville denied him a permit.

The August 12, 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville by neo-nazi and white supremacist groups drew strong counter-protesters.

On the eve of last year's rally, torch-toting white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia's campus, shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville have declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the white nationalist parades and protests set to take place in Charlottesville, Washington DC, and other towns this Sunday. Merchants already suffered a downturn after last year's event; sales tax revenue dropped 11 percent in September 2017 compared with the year before, according to city figures.

In a news conference on Thursday, D.C. police said the Unite the Right rally is something they have been planning for months.

Last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville saw dozens of violent outburst, and turned deadly - when a Dodge Charger allegedly driven by James Fields rammed into other cars, and a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Officials said the declaration was made for the events planned for this weekend to mark the anniversary of the "Unite the Right" rally, which resulted in the death of a counterprotester and two Virginia State Police troopers in 2017.

Charlottesville will have a secured area around downtown with security checkpoints that limit access to pedestrians.

In a low point for his presidency, Donald Trump, blamed "both sides" for the bloodshed, a reaction that triggered astonishment among many and was widely seen as escalating tensions. This year, the same permits were denied to them. He also did not mention a white nationalist demonstration planned for Sunday in the capital.

"We are closely monitoring the intelligence that is available to us about who is coming and who is going elsewhere", Brackney said Wednesday.

"There is no city better equipped to handle large-scale events, including First Amendment events, than Washington, D.C", said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham.

Meanwhile, Alan Popovsky, who owns several restaurants with president themes in D.C., said he plans to serve Sunday brunch at his restaurant, Lincoln, and then close for dinner, after his staff said they were anxious about their safety. "We hope the anniversary of those events passes peacefully", Northam said in a written release. Police at last year's event were criticized for being caught off guard by the violence, failing to keep feuding groups apart and not reacting quickly enough as fights broke out. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Police said they would have a heavy presence in and around Metro stations at Foggy Bottom and Vienna but would not say if they would give Kessler's group special protections on public transit.

The statue and the park in which it's located were the center of last year's Unite the Right rally.