Richmond mayor urges people to avoid downtown on Lobby Day

Richmond mayor urges people to avoid downtown on Lobby Day

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond’s mayor is pleading with people to stay away from downtown over the coming days.

Protective measures began going up around the Virginia State Capitol complex Thursday, Jan. 14. Law enforcement says the potential threat window is from Saturday through the inauguration of Joe Biden.

In Richmond, the focus right now is around Monday, Jan. 18, also known as Lobby Day.

“The violence and the insurrections at activities we saw at our nation’s Capitol will not be tolerated in Virginia’s capital,” Mayor Levar Stoney said.

While all permitted demonstrations have been canceled for Lobby Day this year, the expectation is that people will still show up. A planned gun-rights car parade is set for Monday.

“Law enforcement is well prepared for rapid response and mitigation if an incident or act of violence should occur,” Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran said.

Stoney also reminded those who do plan to come down, that new a new gun ordinance is in place in the city and the law will be enforced.

Meanwhile, the Virginia National Guard will be on standby to help in Richmond. More than 2,000 are stationed in Washington, D.C. With only a total of about 8,500 guardsmen, there are worries if the group has the capacity.

“The short answer is yes, we have the capacity to carry out every mission that we’ve done. That doesn’t mean that we’re not, as the governor said, asking the guard to do a lot,” Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins said.

Last January, about 22,000 people flooded downtown Richmond on both sides of a gun-rights rally.

Over the summer, Governor Ralph Northam did call in the Virginia National Guard to protect the Capitol and offer support to Richmond police during unrest.

“We have the same expectation for lawful demonstrations this year and expect your full cooperation and respect,” Stoney said.

Virginia’s Capitol Square is closed for at least a week. Expect more security measures to go up in the coming days.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.