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Richmond prepares ahead of gun rally

(WDBJ)
Published: Jan. 19, 2020 at 9:53 PM EST
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Instead of open space and easy access, visitors to the Capitol in Richmond Sunday were greeted with fences and guards, every one required to empty their pockets and undergo a security sweep before being allowed on the grounds. Nearby, a prominent sign listed banned items: guns, scissors and pepper spray among many others.

Elsewhere, Capitol and Virginia State police tested rows of metal detectors, and signs on surrounding streets warned drivers they'll be towed if they try to park there overnight.

Starting Monday, those attending the rally will have just one way into the Capitol, through the entrance at 9th and Grace Streets.

The added security is all part of the Governor Northam's

, designed to avoid what he warns are credible threats of violence.

The Virginia Citizens' Defense League, which organized the rally, has denounced the state of emergency, and argued many of the measures taken are illegal. Nonetheless, they're asking their members to listen to law enforcement, and not to bring guns onto Capitol grounds. Instead, they're encouraging everyone at the rally to bring an extra two to five people to stand outside the secure zone at the capitol, where they can be armed.

It's a call to action that's resonated, not just in Virginia, but around the country.

"We made an overnight trip, last minute trip, just to come out and support our second amendment rights," Jeremy Shuck, a Missouri native. He says the security is no barrier to expressing himself.

"Definitely a little overkill in my opinion, but they think they're doing what's necessary and I don't blame them," said Shuck.

Security is being handled by a unified command, made up of state and local law enforcement, including Capitol Police. And come Monday, officials say they'll be watching, no matter what happens.

The VCDL will be broadcasting Monday's rally on WRVA. They say the goal there is to reach everyone in the vicinity, not just those in front of the stage.

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