Virginia's Governor Issued a State of Emergency Ahead of This Weekend's Charlottesville Anniversary

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville have declared states of emergency ahead of this weekend's one-year anniversary of the violent white nationalist rally that left one woman dead and several others injured

The declaration will allow the Virginia National Guard and state agencies to assist local law enforcement with security efforts, as "multiple events" are planned to mark the anniversary. One of these is being organized by Jason Kessler, who helped plan the initial "Unite the Right" rally. This year's will reportedly take place in Washington D.C. since Kessler was denied a permit by the city of Charlottesville. He was initially seeking permission for a 400-person rally

"Virginia continues to mourn the three Virginians who lost their lives in the course of the demonstrations a year ago. We hope the anniversary of those events passes peacefully," Northam said. "I am urging Virginians to make alternative plans to engaging with planned demonstrations of hate, should those arise. 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 was referring to the deaths of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and two police officers killed in a helicopter crash that same day. Heyer was killed when James Alex Fields allegedly drove a car into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalists. Dozens of additional protesters were injured.

According to CBS News, Charlottesville authorities faced "unrelenting criticism" afterward because of their failure to respond to the violence at the rally. A report released in December from former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy showed that state and city police weren't properly prepared, and that officers took a passive response to the chaos. This apparently led to a "deep distrust of government" in the local community.

"We have learned many lessons from the tragic events of August 12, 2017. For the anniversary of that difficult August weekend which resulted in three lost lives, the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia are working closely with law enforcement and public safety agencies from around Virginia to plan for potential events and to keep our city safe from violence," said Charlottesville's Interim City Manager Mike Murphy, addressing concerns similar to those raised by Heaphy's report. "We join the Commonwealth in declaring a state of emergency in advance of these planned events to ensure all available resources are in place and that we are fully prepared to keep the peace in Charlottesville August 10-12." 

Despite planned road closures, parking restrictions and a heavy police presence, counter-protesters to white nationalist groups have pledged to show up should the groups hold any rallies or events.