A gun-rights rally in Virginia is expected to draw a mix of militias, firearms advocates and white supremacists to Richmond on Monday as the state’s capital remained on high alert Sunday.
Many residents in the city are said to fear a repeat of violence seen in nearby Charlottesville in 2017 after state officials and hate-monitoring groups warned about the potential for violence.
Citing credible threats, Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency, banning all weapons, including guns, from Capitol Square.
Virginia’s solicitor general last week also said law enforcement had identified ‘credible evidence’ armed out-of-state groups planned to come to Virginia with the possible intention of participating in a ‘violent insurrection.’
Online, threats of violence have been ‘rampant’ among anti-government and far-right groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white supremacists and other extremists. Conspiracy theories and other misinformation have also proliferated.
And organizers of an annual vigil at the Capitol for the victims of gun violence said Friday they have canceled their event this year because of fears of ‘armed insurrectionists.’
But several militia leaders with large followings on social media, who attended the Charlottesville rally, said they were coming purely to show their support for those opposed to new, more restrictive gun laws in the state.
‘If you think that we’re a threat coming into your city, then you don’t know who we are, you don’t understand what we’re about,’ said Joshua Shoaff, who has over 542,000 Facebook followers and goes by the pseudonym Ace Baker. ‘We’re not anarchists – we believe in government.’
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Source: Daily Mail