Northam to Limit Crowd Size at Gun Rights Rally
It's almost as if Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia authorities are doing all they can to make sure that violence erupts at the "Lobby Day" gun rights rally on Monday.
First, they banned carrying firearms in the capitol, despite it being legal. They have been touting the arrest of a couple of brain dead white supremacists, looking to gin up fear. They are micro-managing the rally site, penning people off and placing severe restrictions on movement.
Now, word is that they are going to limit the number of people at the rally.
Outside the Capitol, authorities used tall chain-link barriers to create a pie-shaped pen for the rally. The area takes up about a third of Capitol Square, a manicured park dotted with monuments to figures ranging from Native Americans and George Washington to a segregationist governor and civil rights leaders. The monuments were protected with additional fencing, as was the Executive Mansion to the east.
The square is usually open on all sides to foot traffic. Under Northam’s emergency order, access is restricted to one spot, at 9th and East Grace Streets. Just inside that entrance, the crowd will be split into 17 lines for screening with metal detectors.
Anyone attempting to bring in weapons will be turned away, but police will not confiscate those items, officials have said. Demonstrators who do not want to part with their guns may remain armed on city streets. Authorities say they will cut off admission to the rally once the crowd hits a certain number, which they have declined to disclose.
Obviously, authorities don't want violence. But herding adults around like pre-school kids is not conducive to building confidence.
How worried should authorities be? There will be armed militias who have pledged not to cause any violence and other gun rights organizations have also said they are hoping for a peaceful rally.
So who is it that is threatening violence that has authorities on edge?
Virginia Citizens Defense League President Philip Van Cleave told Fox News it's not the pro-gun groups that are stoking fear.
"It's the Democrats," he said. "It's almost like they want something to happen. It sounds crazy, but they keep doing it and you have to start wondering if that's intentional."
Cleave said membership in his organization has tripled in the past six weeks and that 10,000 people have signed up for free email alerts. He attributes the spike in popularity to Gov. Ralph Northam and Democrats in the state legislature. Van Cleave believes they have "declared war on gun owners" and is counting on gun-rights advocates to show up Monday to have their collective voices heard.
Governor Northam is doing all he can to stoke fear of violence. He has ordered that all "non-essential" state workers remain home while nearby universities are telling their students to remain indoors.
Guess this is one political demonstration schools don't want the kids to attend.
Northam is playing it cagey. If the rally comes off without a hitch, he can brag about his preparations preventing violence -- that was never going to happen anyway. If there's an incident or two, he can say "I told ya so" and win political points that way.
But when even Antifa swears off violence, the chances of anything bad happening are pretty slim.