In addition to Kessler, also planning to attend the white-supremacist rally, according to documents obtained by Washington City Paper from the National Park Service, are David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, and several neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers. U.Va. was the scene of a torch-lit march the night before the first Unite the Right rally a year ago, where hundreds of white nationalists, carrying Tiki torches, gathered at the rotunda and surrounded a group of counterprotesters around the Jefferson statue.
Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville declared states of emergency as the anniversary of last year's violent Unite the Right rally approaches this weekend. Merchants already suffered a downturn after last year's event; sales tax revenue dropped 11 percent in September 2017 compared with the year before, according to city figures.
Trump's words contrast sharply with his first public comments on the events last summer, which left 32-year-old anti-racist counterprotester Heather Heyer dead after a suspected white nationalist plowed his vehicle into a crowd on August 12, 2017.
Two Virginia state troopers who were assisting the authorities by observing the unrest from the air died when their helicopter crashed on August 12.
In downtown Charlottesville, barriers were set up at the Downtown Mall, turning it into a locked-down area that can only be accessed through security checkpoints until the end of the weekend.
"I think there is blame on both sides", Trump said during a press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in NY. Many students say they are upset that the university did not warn them about this in advance, especially since it falls as many students are moving in for the new school year.
The police chief said he wants a day in which "Nobody gets injured and nothing gets broke". Meanwhile other events are planned to promote racial healing.
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"I don't know exactly what will happen, but it probably will not be good", tweeted Richard Spencer, a leader of the so-called "alt-right" movement, who said he would be staying away from the rally. "We hope the anniversary of those events passes peacefully", Northam said in a written release. Safety and security are always a top concern as restaurants are public spaces. This from the president who said that Haitians--all Haitians have AIDS.
Police are expecting people with the Unite the Right group to travel from the Vienna Metro Station to Foggy Bottom and then head to Lafayette Square.
The events mark the anniversary of the violent 2017 rally that led to the deaths of three people including two law enforcement officers.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides - on many sides", Trump said in a short statement delivered in New Jersey.
In DC a Unite the Right parade and rally is slated to take place with permits for protest granted in different parts of Capitol Hill.
Jason Kessler, the primary organizer of last summer's rally, sued the city of Charlottesville after it refused to issue him a permit for another event this weekend.