- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2017

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed an executive order that temporarily bans demonstrations at a monument honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in the commonwealth’s capital, citing the violence that broke out at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that resulted in the death of an anti-racism protester.

The Democratic governor said he made the decision after police had to respond to several demonstrations around the Lee monument in Richmond, including “situations that involved heavily armed protesters that disturbed the peace near the monument.”

“In the aftermath of this tragedy, several groups have requested permits to hold similar-styled events at the Lee Monument in Richmond. State and local officials need to get ahead of this problem so that we have the proper legal protections in place to allow for peaceful demonstrations, but without putting citizens and property at risk,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

“Let me be clear, this executive order has nothing to do with infringing upon First Amendment rights. This is a temporary suspension, issued with the singular purpose of creating fail-safe regulations to preserve the health and well-being of our citizens and ensuring that nothing like what occurred in Charlottesville happens again,” he said.

The order directs the Department of General Services to craft new regulations that aim to protect First Amendment rights and bolster public safety.

White supremacists, Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville last weekend as part of a “Unite the Right” rally to protest the planned removal of a statue of Lee from a city park.

Police broke up the event after brawls erupted between white nationalists and counterprotesters. Hours later a car slammed into a group protesting against the rally, killing one woman and injuring 19 others.

Mr. McAuliffe gave the Department of General Services until Nov. 18 to promulgate new regulations for demonstration permits at the Lee statue on Monument Ave. in Richmond. The governor said there is currently an absence of “sensible” regulations for demonstrations at the monument, noting that demonstrations of up to 5,000 people are allowed there between sunrise and 11 p.m. under current regulations.

“There are already, and it is anticipated that there will be more, permit requests for demonstrations at the Lee Monument as the public debate over Confederate monuments continues, leaving grave risks for future civil unrest,” Mr. McAuliffe wrote in the temporary executive order.

“Until a full review process has been concluded, it is a threat to public safety to allow permit-requiring activity to occur in the absence of such sensible regulations that should be implemented to govern all expressive activity at the Lee Monument, no matter its content.”

The executive order states that during the time the Lee Monument is off limits for demonstrations, there are alternative venues for such activities.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide