Will Richmond be the next Charlottesville?

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 9/15/2017, 10:29 a.m.
In defiance of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s ban on demonstrations at the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue, a little ...

Police are creating a large, empty zone around the statue, with no parking allowed near the statue along Allen and Monument avenues and Grace Street.

A heavy police presence is expected in the statue area. Chief Durham has pledges of support from several police departments to supplement his forces, including the Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department and the State Police. It is possible that officers could outnumber the demonstrators.

In compliance with Gov. McAuliffe’s ban, the state has rebuffed at least three requests for parade permits at the Lee statue for Sept. 16, which for unexplained reasons turned out to be a popular date.

On Wednesday, Gov. McAuliffe repeated that the ban on demonstrations at the state-owned Lee statue, itself, will “be enforced.”

City police previously have allowed other groups to parade down city streets and even temporarily block traffic as long as they stuck to vocally making their point.

Still, there is high anxiety among residents and others as the rally nears.

Separately, the Richmond Peace Education Center, First Unitarian Universalist Church and other groups plan hold a Richmond Stands United for Racial Justice Rally 8:45 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Maggie L. Walker statue at Broad and Adams streets, followed by a march for justice.

The purpose: To show that residents “stand united in the former capital of the Confederacy in rejecting false ‘Lost Cause’ myths,” to “embrace and celebrate the rich diversity of our community” and to show a commitment “to building a future in which every child in the Richmond region, regardless of race or ZIP code, has full access to hope, safety and opportunity… free of white supremacy,” according to the rally’s Facebook post.

In addition, the YWCA and a diverse coalition of groups, including the American Civil War Museum, Diversity Richmond and several faith groups, will host a public program on “Building a Just Richmond” 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Huguenot High School, 7945 Forest Hill Ave.

The goal of the program is to bring the Richmond community together to learn and take action, “to stand against hatred and pursue a more inclusive, equitable and just community.”