- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2017

A ban against protesting at a statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, isn’t stopping a neo-Confederate group from moving forward with its plans to rally there next week.

The New Confederate States of America (CSA II) said it’ll hold a demonstration at Richmond’s Lee monument Sept. 16, notwithstanding a recently enacted executive order singling out the site as a no-protest zone.

The Tennessee-based group began advertising the “Protect the General Robert E. Lee Monument Rally” on its Facebook page Aug. 17, five days after a rally held in a support of a Lee statue in nearby Charlottesville descended into chaos and ended in the death of a counterprotester, 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAullife subsequently issued an executive order Aug. 18 temporarily prohibiting demonstrations at the Lee statue in Richmond, the state capital, but CSA said next week’s rally is happening regardless.

“The event on September 16th at the Lee Monument IS NOT CANCELED,” the group said in a Facebook post Wednesday. “IT WILL STILL BE GOING ON.”

The Richmond Police Department “is aware of this event and working on providing security,” CSA said in a Facebook post.

A leader of the group said only that “we have it all arranged” before hanging up in the middle of an interview about the event with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the newspaper reported Friday.

Richmond police plan to address the rally next week, the report said.

Charlottesville officials voted in February to take down the city’s long-standing statue to Lee, a slave-owning Confederate general in the Civil War, but its removal has been on hold ever since pending ongoing court proceedings.

Supporters of the statue attempted to hold a rally there in the interim on Aug. 12, but the event, which attracted an influx of neo-Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists, was canceled when violent clashes erupted between the protesters and counterprotesters. James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio was charged with second-degree murder after driving his car into a crowd of counterprotesters later that day, killing Heyer and injuring 19 others, according to police.

Mr. McAuliiffe’s Aug. 18 executive order temporarily prohibits issuance of permits and prohibiting demonstrations at the Lee monument “until new emergency regulations have been approved and implemented by the Virginia Department of General Services,” according to the governor’s office.

“There is no question under the permitting process that our job is to keep people safe,” Mr. McAuliife told WTOP last week. “I can’t take it (the statue) down, but I can take actions to protect people.”

Dena Potter, a spokeswoman for the department, said permitting for events at the statue remains suspended pending a review of regulations currently scheduled to be ready by mid-November, The Times-Dispatch reported Friday.

“Any effort to hold a demonstration at Lee Monument before that time would be unlawful,” she said.

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