Police, organizers prepare for 10K+ people rallying at State Capitol
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Law enforcement across the Richmond Metro are preparing for a massive rally on the steps of the Capitol on Friday afternoon.
Some 10,000 people could gather in downtown Richmond for the National School Walkout where students and other advocates will protest for tougher gun laws.
The Capitol building will be closed, and some businesses in the area will too. Even if you aren't participating, you'll want to be aware of what's happening due to extra traffic and road restrictions.
March 24 is a day many won't soon forget, as students gathered in droves to fight gun violence. The National March for Our Lives event was the prelude for the National School Walkout happening Friday.
"It's our lives that are at stake, you know. We are concerned for our safety, and our schools safety and our peers safety," said student Chelsea Modeste.
All over the nation, students will walk out of class on Friday to fight for tougher gun laws. Their efforts were prompted by the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
"If that were a deadly disease, we'd all be freaking out. We'd all be panicking. We'd all be asking for change. But when it's guns, it turns political, and we look on passively, and we don't want to do anything about it because it's too political," said student Sam Alburger.
"We fully support the public's right to free speech," said Captain Randy Howard.
Capitol Police have been meeting with student organizers, as well as other local law enforcement for weeks. They'll have their eye on the crowd and those watching them.
"Anytime we have a rally or protest, we always have to be concerned about counter protesters - it might be a suspicious package, suspicious individual, suspicious vehicle - then we're prepared to handle that very quickly," Howard added.
These students say they're not here to cause any problems. They're here to spark change.
"We should be unifying together - Democrats, Republicans, left and right, red and blue should be coming together. It shouldn't be political. This is life or death we're talking about," Alburger added.
The students will gather at Brown's Island and them march up 7th Street onto Grace Street heading east. The right-hand lane of travel on 9th Street will be closed for buses to drop off and pick up those protesters. Drivers should avoid this entire area between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Friday.
Copyright 2018 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.