On Wednesday afternoon, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in anticipation of “Lobby Day,” a pro-gun rally at the state capitol in Richmond which has attracted the attention of far-right agitators. According to the executive order, Virginia pro-gun groups and outside protestors threatening violence intend to “storm” the state capital to rail against recent gun control legislation. “The available information suggests that a substantial number of these demonstrators are expected to come from outside [Virginia], may be armed, and have as their purpose not peaceful assembly but violence, rioting, and insurrection,” Northam’s order states.
Called in an attempt to preclude a second Charlottesville — where alt-right and white nationalist groups clashed with counter-protestors at the Unite the Right rally in 2017, leaving one dead and over 30 injured — the state of emergency will be active from Friday, January 17 through Tuesday, January 21. The rally itself will take place on Martin Luther King, and guns will be banned from the capitol for the event.