Virginia governor declares state of emergency ahead of Charlottesville anniversary

Virginia governor declares state of emergency ahead of Charlottesville anniversary
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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for the state and the city of Charlottesville in anticipation of the one-year anniversary of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally.

There are multiple events planned in Charlottesville and in Washington, D.C., over the weekend to mark the anniversary of the white supremacist rally last August.

The 2018 “Unite the Right” rally is scheduled to take place in D.C., with hundreds expected to attend, and counterprotests also planned.

Northam said in a press release that he was declaring the state of emergency to ensure state resources are available to local governments and residents if necessary. 

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"I am urging Virginians to make alternative plans to engaging with planned demonstrations of hate, should those arise,” he said. “Declaring this state of emergency in advance of the anniversary and the related planned events will help us ensure that the state and the city have all available resources to support emergency responders in case they are needed.”

Northam’s declaration allocates $2 million to pay for state agencies to deploy to Charlottesville and authorizes the Virginia National Guard to provide security.

Charlottesville interim city manager Mike Murphy has also declared a local state of emergency ahead of the expected protests and counterprotests.

Charlottesville law enforcement faced significant criticism for their handling of last year's rally, which left one woman dead, forcing police Chief Alfred Thomas to retire immediately. A former federal prosecutor’s report evaluating law enforcement response to the rally found that local police put officer safety over public safety in their response plans.