RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s a big day, with all eyes on Richmond for a gun-rights rally that’s expected to bring thousands to the state Capitol.
Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency days ahead of Monday’s rally, banning all weapons including guns from Capitol Square, where the event is set to be held.
Militia groups and white supremacists were among those expected to mix with gun-rights activists, raising fears that the state could again see the type of violence that exploded in Charlottesville in 2017.
By 6:30 a.m., some people were already lining up to get onto Capitol Grounds. The official rally begins at 11 a.m.
While Governor Northam and the rally organizer are calling for peace, police are on high alert and security is extremely tight, amid concern over threats from extremist groups.
Fencing and blockades have been in place since last week. The FBI along with local police officers are expected at the Capitol.
Road closures and GRTC detours will be in effect for Lobby Day in downtown Richmond. Here’s a look.
The rally is expected to draw a mix of militias, firearms advocates and white supremacists to Richmond.
Virginia’s solicitor general last week said law enforcement had identified “credible evidence” armed out-of-state groups planned to come to Virginia with the possible intention of participating in a “violent insurrection.”
Groups planning to come include Virginia Citizens Defense League, Gun Owners of America, Oath Keepers, Three Percenter Movement and White supremacists - read more about the groups’ plans here.
So for this morning, we’ve already seen video of people from as far as Wytheville and North Carolina heading to Richmond for Lobby Day.
Gun safety groups have called off their annual gathering on Capitol Square citing safety concerns. That event, held by the Virginia Center for Public Safety, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence had a permit to rally from 3 to 4 p.m.
They were holding a vigil to remember the victims of gun violence - an event they had for 28 years.
In a statement, the organizations said they canceled with heavy hearts out of an abundance of caution due to serious threats of violence.
These protests come as proposed gun measures move forward in the general assembly. They require background checks on all firearms purchases, limit handgun purchases to one per month and also allow localities to ban guns from certain events and government buildings.
Three bills passed the state Senate, but the House has yet to take up any gun measures.
Passionate people from all sides of different issues usually make their way to Richmond to lobby lawmakers while they are in session.
The gun lobby is one of the largest and most visible groups, but people show up to talk about all sorts of causes with legislators: Firefighters, teachers environmentalists have all held rallies over the years. There are often protests and speakers and people do have face-to-face meetings with lawmakers inside the capitol.
This is also often a big day for advocacy and expressing first amendment rights because it’s MLK day.
Since Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday, all state offices and schools are closed. But make sure it’s a day on, not a day off.
This morning, faith leaders in Richmond are holding a “Prayer for Peace" service. It starts at 9 a.m., at the Centenary United Methodist Church at 411 E. Grace St. Organizers from across the city asked their congregations to come together, and everyone in the public is invited.
The city is also hosting a National Day of Service event, at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Leigh Street, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney will deliver a keynote address. Then starting at 11:15, volunteers will fan out across the city for a number of community service projects.
Luckily, Andrew says it won’t last too long!
Dry and colder than average weather for January is expected the next several days before it gets back to average or above later this week.
We’re one day away from the expected start of opening arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial.
Senators will debate over the rules of the trial tomorrow, and it’s still not known if witnesses will testify.
Over the weekend, the House impeachment managers finalized their arguments for why president trump should be removed from office. The president’s legal team has a deadline of noon today to get their formal arguments into the senate.
The Virginia Education Association is holding a “Fund Our Future” rally at the state Capitol on Monday, Jan. 27. Since nearly 700 RPS employees plan to attend, the district has canceled classes for the day.
Officials say there were not enough substitute teachers to cover the classrooms, and the closure will not affect the school calendar.
Today is Roberta Smith’s 100th birthday!
She is affectionately known as Bea. She lives in Henrico and enjoys being around children, sewing, reading the newspaper and watching Wheel of Fortune. We hope you have a very happy birthday, Bea!
“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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