Charlottesville leaders plan events to offset KKK rally

Published: Jun. 20, 2017 at 9:52 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2017 at 10:14 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE (WVIR) - Charlottesville leaders laid out a plan in hopes of preventing violence during a planned Ku Klux Klan rally next month.

City leaders are urging opponents to stay away from Justice Park on July 8, WVIR reports. Unless anyone actually breaks the law, the city has to allow the North Carolina KKK group the right to assemble.  The rights for a white supremacy group are being upheld by a black police chief.

"Law enforcement has a responsibility to ensure that free speech is enabled no matter how much we disagree with the message," said Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas.

On Tuesday, city leaders urged people to leave the Klan members alone and that ignoring them all together would be the best opposition.

"The city of Charlottesville will keep our people safe in the coming weeks," said Mike Signer, Mayor of Charlottesville.

With a promise of public safety, also came a reassurance that while upholding the right to free speech, the city publicly opposes any group whose message is hate.

"No one wants these groups here in our city," said Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy

The plan now is to offer alternative events to give families better options than engaging in potential altercations with Klan members.  There are at least four events already planned for the same day, in response to the KKK rally.

"I hope that July 8 will be remembered as a day of unity, not a day of hate and fear. Fear will not define this community," Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas told WVIR.

Members of the North Carolina Klan group filed permits to hold a rally at Justice Park to protest the potential removal of Robert E. Lee statue.

The group originally filed paperwork to hold its rally at Charlottesville Circuit Court on July 8, but it has been moved to Justice Park due to space.

Copyright 2017 WWBT/WVIR. All rights reserved

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