Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in Richmond ahead of a rally Monday that is expected to bring thousands of gun rights activists to Richmond.
The state of emergency will be enforced Friday evening to Tuesday evening. It includes a firearms ban on Capitol Square, as well as a general ban on weapons that includes bats and knives.
Northam cited safety threats “similar to what has been seen before other major events such as Charlottesville,” a reference to the deadly Unite the Right rally in August 2017.
“These are considered credible, serious threats by our law enforcement agencies,” Northam said, citing claims that groups plan on “storming our Capitol” and “weaponizing drones over our Capitol.”
Monday’s rally is being organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which says it is expecting between 30,000 and 50,000 people to arrive on the steps of the Capitol to protest gun control legislature proposed by Democratic lawmakers.
In an email to rally participants sent Tuesday, VCDL encouraged a peaceful demonstration. It told protestors planning to go inside legislative buildings to leave their guns at home or in their hotels. But, it also encouraged unarmed protestors to travel with an armed “designated defender” that will wait outside the buildings for them. It’s unclear how the group might update its directive following Northam’s announcement.
“We cannot stress enough that this is a peaceful day to address our legislature,” Tuesday’s email reads. “The eyes of the nation and the world are on Virginia and VCDL right now and we must show them that gun owners are not the problem. Lead by example.”
By violating the First and Second Amendment rights of those opposed to Northam’s unconstitutional gun-banning efforts, Northam is certainly leading by example … the example of a coward.