RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - New Confederate States of America organizers from Tennessee have arrived in Richmond. The three rally leaders say they were called to Virginia by Virginians, asking them for help in coordinating the protest they say is in the name of heritage, not hate.
They are demonstrating for the preservation of Richmond's Confederate monuments. Organizers say the vast majority of protesters will be from Virginia and that they are the only three they know of from out-of-state.
Tara Brandau, with the Florida Three Percent Security Force, and Thomas Crompton, of the New Confederate States of America, two of the organizers, say they're denouncing violence, but will defend themselves against it, should they be put in danger.
"It's my heritage. We were requested by Virginia residents to come help them," said Brandau.
The New Confederate States of America met with police, and say they're sending a clear message to their followers, 75 or more of which are expected Saturday.
"We have let them know what all the police have ordered. And we have actually shared that on our event page. We are recommending to them (their followers) that they break no laws because they will be arrested," continued Brandau.
Brandau says the group did apply for a permit before Governor McAuliffe handed down a ban on rallying at state monuments. She says they were denied but were told they can legally protest on the sidewalks.
Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham and Mayor Levar Stoney were stern in their warning to protesters, the week heading into the rally. On Friday, police and blockades were already heavily in place at the Lee Monument.
Bringing any object that could be used as a weapon, like sticks or pepper spray, is banned. Covering your face with a scarf or mask, is also against the law. Anyone mishandling or brandishing a firearm will also arrested on the spot, according to Durham.
The open carrying of guns is legal and allowed. The group says they are neutral on that.
"I have not requested anyone to bring guns, but I have not denied anyone their rights to," added Brandau.
Police cannot randomly pat anyone down, either.
In weeks leading up to tomorrow's controversial rally, the group says they've received death threats from groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter.
"I never back down. I'm here to stand up for my heritage, and the Virginia people who want us here, for their heritage," said Brandau.
During the group's press conference outside the Virginia State Capitol Friday, counter-protester Jessica Lawrence, loudly expressed her viewpoint, countering the group's views.
Lawrence plans to walk with the hundreds expected to protest in opposition to pro-monument demonstrators.
"Their heritage is nothing but hate. They started a civil war to keep people in bondage. That was a historical wrong. They're on the wrong side of history," said Lawrence.
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