- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2018

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser activated the city’s emergency operations team Thursday in preparation for “Unite the Right 2” rally on Sunday, marking the one-year anniversary of the violent white nationalist gathering that left one counterprotester dead in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Miss Bowser held a joint press conference with Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham to address safety concerns, elevating the city’s emergency level to “2” to establish an emergency operations team.

“Put simply, it means that I’m making available every resource — public safety, traffic, and management, and public works — to ensure we have safe events,” the mayor said during the press conference at Adas Israel Congregation Synagogue in Cleveland Park.

Chief Newsham said officers will be on “high alert,” having learned from criticisms leveled at Virginia State Police last year.

The District’s move came a day after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam had declared a state of emergency amid concerns that violence would erupt again in Charlottesville. White nationalists brawled with counterprotesters, one of whom was killed when a car was driven into a group of them. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed, and the driver, James Alex Fields Jr., reportedly an admirer of Adolf Hitler, awaits trial in her death.

On Sunday afternoon, rally participants are scheduled to march from the Foggy Bottom Metro Station to Lafayette Square, across from the White House. A coalition of activist groups such as Black Lives Matter and Workers Against Racism plans to rally at Freedom Plaza before launching counterprotests at Lafayette Square.

“Law enforcement’s goal during the entire operational period will be to keep the two groups separated,” said Chief Newsham, who announced that D.C. concealed carry permits would not apply in the rally area. “In other words, this Sunday, carrying a firearm with or without a permit in or around these events will be illegal.”

However, there will be no weapons checkpoints downtown, and a police spokesperson said there will be no ban items such as sign poles.

The National Park Service approved Thursday a permit for 400 people at the “Unite the Right 2” rally, filed by alt-right figure Jason Kessler, who organized last year’s event in Charlottesville. Two permits for counterprotests by the Democratic Socialists of America and the ANSWER Coalition also were approved. More than 3,000 attendees are expected at the three events on Sunday.

Park Service officials are reconsidering whether to allow future speeches at the public spaces they oversee, WTOP reported.

D.C. police announced the following street closures in Northwest on Sunday:

⦁ 15th and 17th streets from Constitution Avenue to K Street.

⦁ 18th through 21st streets from E Street to Pennsylvania Avenue.

⦁ H Street, I Street and K Street from 17th to 15th streets.

⦁ Connecticut and Vermont avenues from H Street to I Street.

⦁ G through E streets from 17th to 23rd streets.

⦁ 23rd Street from Virginia Avenue to Washington Circle.

Meanwhile, almost 9,000 people have signed a petition asking Metro to forbid service to the white nationalists. The transit agency had sparked outrage late last week by suggesting it might provide “private cars” to the rally-goers in a bid to separate them from counterprotesters, before backtracking on Monday.

Legal news site Lexocoly published a guide for D.C. shops and restaurants on how to refuse service to white nationalists, advising business owners to post signs on their doors and learn to “identify certain clothing or paraphernalia” the rally participants might wear.

An AirBnb spokesman also told Washingtonian magazine that the home-sharing service may expel white nationalists from its rental properties in town, and George Washington University announced it is closing its library and health center and will require students to present identification to enter all buildings, WTOP reported.

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