Virginia Declares State Of Emergency After Armed Militias Threaten To Storm The Capitol

The gov­er­nor said law enforce­ment had inter­cept­ed “extrem­ist rhetoric” sim­i­lar to the lead-up to Charlottesville days before pro-gun activists are hold­ing a ral­ly.

In response to what he described as “cred­i­ble intel­li­gence” of threats of vio­lence at an upcom­ing gun rights ral­ly in Richmond, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emer­gency and will tem­porar­i­ly ban indi­vid­u­als from car­ry­ing firearms on Capitol grounds. 

The gov­er­nor said at a press con­fer­ence Wednesday that author­i­ties believe “armed mili­tia groups plan to storm the Capitol” dur­ing the January 20 ral­ly.

He also said that law enforce­ment had inter­cept­ed threats and “extrem­ist rhetoric” sim­i­lar to what was observed pri­or to the vio­lent Unite the Right ral­ly in Charlottesville in August 2017. “We will not allow that may­hem and vio­lence to hap­pen here,” he said. 

The deci­sion to ban all weapons, includ­ing firearms, won’t sit well with the thou­sands of gun lovers who are expect­ed to descend on Richmond to par­tic­i­pate in what was billed as an open-car­ry affair and an oppor­tu­ni­ty to flex Second Amendment rights. 

No weapons will be allowed on Capitol grounds,” said Northam, a Democrat. “Everything from sticks and bats to chains and pro­jec­tiles…. The list also includes firearms. It makes no sense to ban every oth­er weapon but allow firearms when intel­li­gence shows that armed mili­tia groups plan to storm the Capitol.”

On the Facebook page for the ral­ly, sev­er­al atten­dees are already say­ing they won’t com­ply and leave their weapons at home — even though Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has vowed a hard line on rule-break­ers. “Violations of the law will not be tol­er­at­ed,” Stoney said. 

The January 20 event, dubbed “Lobby Day,” was orga­nized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro-Second Amendment non­prof­it, in response to new gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion intro­duced by the Democrat state Legislature. Northam acknowl­edged that the orga­niz­ers had been plan­ning the ral­ly for some time. “I believe them when they say this is a peace­ful event — that’s what democ­ra­cy is,” said Northam. “Unfortunately, they have unleashed some­thing much larg­er, some­thing they may not be able to con­trol.”

Upwards of 5,000 peo­ple said on the Facebook page that they plan to attend. Event orga­niz­ers have warned the state that as many as 100,000 could show up. 

A web­site for the ral­ly shows that at least 60 bus­es are sched­uled to trans­port atten­dees into Richmond on Monday. And there’s word that car­pools are being orga­nized. What’s more, armed mili­tia groups are also plan­ning to attend, and some have even described the event as a “booga­loo” — a term that the far right uses to describe a sec­ond civ­il war. 

In addi­tion to ban­ning weapons on Capitol grounds, Northam also said he’d estab­lished a uni­fied com­mand between state police, Capitol police, the Richmond police depart­ment, and the city’s first respon­der teams. This is a crit­i­cal move — one that’s like­ly borne out of the lessons learned from the mas­sive law enforce­ment fail­ures dur­ing Unite the Right, which left one dead and dozens injured. Months after that ral­ly, an inde­pen­dent review team released a sear­ing 220-page report ana­lyz­ing how law enforcement’s dis­or­ga­ni­za­tion and fail­ure to coör­di­nate across agen­cies allowed the vio­lent, ugly scenes that unfold­ed that day.

Northam says that the state of emer­gency will be lift­ed on Tuesday. (The sto­ry orig­i­nat­ed from onvice​.com)