The same man who organized the violent and ultimately deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. one year ago is the organizer of what he calls a “white civil rights” rally scheduled for Sunday evening in Washington.
Friday, visitors enjoyed a sunny, relaxing day at Lafayette Park just across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. But by Sunday, a different scene is expected.
The group that sparked violent protest in Charlottesville is heading for Washington this weekend. The event, called “Unite the Right 2,” marks the anniversary of the Charlottesville rally. Organizers say it’s a white civil rights gathering.
Counterprotesters are also planning to rally, denouncing the group.
Washington police chief Peter Newsham says his department is ready.
“The law allows for first amendment assemblies of any kind,” Newsham said. “The law does not allow for injuries to persons or destruction of property.”
Law enforcement in Washington has considerable experience managing security during demonstrations. Their plan to prevent violence on Sunday is to construct buffer zones, keeping the two groups apart and allowing police to move through the park quickly.
Police also instituted a temporary policy making it illegal to carry guns in and around the demonstration area. Law enforcement worked for months coordinating plans between multiple agencies and officials are confident they have a plan to keep the peace
Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) hopes that is what happens.
“I respect anybody’s first amendment right if they want to do that but don’t come here and cause trouble,” Jones said. “Just come here say your piece and get the hell outta here.”