State Watch

No violence, only one arrest reported at large Virginia pro-gun rally

A massive pro-gun rally in Virginia’s capital on Monday remained peaceful despite reported threats of violence from white nationalist groups.

Photos and videos showed thousands of gun rights supporters marching in the streets of Richmond, Va., many armed with assault-style weapons or other firearms, while hundreds passed metal detectors to the grounds of the state capitol where a temporary firearm restriction was in place and an area for speakers was set up.

An unidentified 21-year-old woman was arrested for violating a temporary anti-mask statute put in effect by Gov. Ralph Northam (D), but no other arrests were initially reported, according to The Washington Post.

“We are all thankful that today passed without incident. The teams successfully de-escalated what could have been a volatile situation. This resulted from weeks of planning and extensive cooperation among state, local, and federal partners in Virginia and beyond,” Northam’s office said in a statement following Monday’s rally.

“Thousands of people came to Richmond to make their voices heard. Today showed that when people disagree, they can do so peacefully. The issues before us evoke strong emotions, and progress is often difficult. I will continue to listen to the voices of Virginians, and I will continue to do everything in my power to keep our Commonwealth safe,” he added.

Virginia Democrats, who took control of the state General Assembly earlier this year, have vowed to pass gun control measures such as universal background checks and limits on gun purchases that have earned the ire of Republicans and gun rights supporters including President Trump.

The rally occurred Monday following arrests of suspected neo-Nazis in several states after authorities reportedly learned of threats to commit violence at the rally. Northam responded by declaring a state of emergency ahead of the rally, vowing that street battles that occurred at a rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 would not occur again.

The head of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro-gun group, told the Post that Monday’s rally was a success.

“It was perfect,” Philip Van Cleave said. “This was what we wanted — something totally peaceful to tell the General Assembly to stay away from gun control.”

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