Mayor Stoney: If you have no business on Monument Ave, stay home

Mayor Stoney: If you have no business on Monument Ave, stay home
Chief Durham (Source: NBC12)
Chief Durham (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond police and city officials handed down a stern warning for the hundreds of people expected to converge on Monument Avenue Saturday -- break the law, and you will be arrested.

Richmond police and Mayor Stoney held a press conference on Thursday, ahead of Saturday's controversial rally at the Robert E. Lee Monument. Stoney called on Richmonders with no business at Monument Avenue to "stay home" on Saturday.

Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham called upon everyone to act peacefully at the rally and warned everyone that certain, obvious objects of intimidation, such as bats, flagpoles, sticks, or shields, will be banned.

People are not allowed to cover their faces with scarves or wear masks. That's illegal, regardless. However, protesters will not be patted down before entering the assembly areas around the Monument. Officers cannot legally just search someone. If police see those objects on someone in plain sight,
they will remove the objects or make an arrest.

Ralliers will be allowed to open carry guns, as it is the law. However, anyone brandishing a weapon in a dangerous way can be removed or arrested. Durham says he's confident a lot will be accomplished safety-wise by taking potential weapons like bats, out of the hands of protesters.

"By limiting what is brought into those areas, will help us to prevent any harm," said Durham. "We will not allow things to get out of hand."

"If you do not respect our city, law enforcement will lock you up," said Mayor Stoney.

Anyone walking on the green of the Lee Monument, where the governor temporarily banned protests on state property, will be arrested.

When asked how officers plan to separate conflicting protesters around a circular Lee Monument, Durham says logistics are still being worked out. However, the chief implied it might have to be a game-time decision, depending on who shows up to the rallies.

"I think it's going to be a learning curve… It's not going to be a pretty picture. But response is critical, and that's what you're going to get from your first responders," promised Durham.

In the meantime, you can expect road closures and a perimeter closed off around Monument Avenue, starting Friday morning and ending Saturday evening.

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