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A Year Later, Charlottesville Battens the Hatches

Jason Kessler is trying to hold another Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2018 9:21 AM CDT
In this Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 file photo, James Alex Fields Jr., second left, holds a black shield in Charlottesville, Va., where a white supremacist rally took place.   (Alan Goffinski via AP)
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(Newser) – The clock is ticking down on the Aug. 12 anniversary of the Unite the Right rally that led to deadly violence in Charlottesville, and white nationalist Jason Kessler wants to throw another event to mark it. The city of Charlottesville is taking him to federal court to try to block his permit to hold another rally, but the Daily Progress reports that it's not banking solely on the courts to keep relative peace that weekend. "We know that someone, regardless, is going to use this as an opportunity for their national platform to be heard," says city Police Chief RaShall Brackney, in a discussion about planning for worst-cases scenarios. "I don’t care when any judge makes any decision about [Kessler.] … And shame on us if we don’t plan for whomever might show up."

"I want to know whether I should batten down the hatches—or if I should not live my life," said one resident at a Thursday meeting to discuss readiness. State and local police took flak last year for a balky, uncoordinated response as violence broke out. This time out, they're acting under a unified response plan. City officials have adopted new bans on objects that can be weaponized; through lawsuits, they've also gotten nearly two dozen groups that the Daily Progress says were linked to "illegal paramilitary activity" to agree to stay out of town. "We are doing everything we can to keep ... our folks safe. But ... there might be a moment when we say, 'the safest thing you can do is not be downtown,'" says Fire Chief Andrew Baxter. Kessler is due in court July 24 to decide on the permit, reports the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Read more Charlottesville, Va. stories.)

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