Marion Patriot Rider, BLM rallies mostly peaceful
Hundreds of law enforcement officials were on hand
MARION, Va. (WDBJ) - Police in the town of Marion worked with a large group of fellow agencies for two rallies Friday in what was called “the single largest coordinated effort of law enforcement and emergency management in our region, west of Roanoke, in recent history,” by Marion’s Police Chief, John Clair.
A rally by the American Patriot Riders was held at 1 p.m., with a Black Lives Matter rally later in the afternoon. The Black Lives Matter group walked a stretch of over 3.5 miles from the Marion Farmers Market to a nearby Walmart.
Several hundred people showed up for the rallies, with police at times standing between the two groups to keep the peace during exchanges of dialogue.
Police say the BLM rally was driven by a recent cross-burning and arrest in Marion.
The day remained mostly peaceful, according to the Town of Marion, with “moments of tense confrontation along the march route” that concluded with “an intense exchange between both groups along the barricades on Main Street” before crowds left around 8 p.m. Friday.
The department also placed almost 1,000 feet of event barricades around designated assembly areas, near the Farmers’ Market and on primary roadways.
Police were urging participants to follow assembly expectation guidelines, and the community was urged to follow all detours and take alternate routes during the events.
Police had worked with rally organizers on a specific route to keep things safe and orderly. The following group of agencies aided the Marion Police Department and Smyth County Sheriff’s Office during today’s events: “Virginia Department of Emergency Management; Virginia State Police; Virginia Department of Corrections; US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Smyth County Emergency Management; Wythe County Sheriff’s Office; Atkins Fire Department; Marion Fire and EMS; Adwolfe Fire Department; Chilhowie Fire and EMS Washington County Sheriff’s Office; Abingdon Police Department; Bristol Police Department; Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute: Ballad Health; and others.”
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