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Businesses Taking Part in Unity Cville, JMRL Branch Closing Due to Aug. Rally

Posted: Updated: Jul 24, 2017 05:16 PM
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Some businesses and organizations in Charlottesville are standing together in response to the upcoming Unite the Right rally at Emancipation Park.

Self-proclaimed white activist Jason Kessler is behind the controversial rally around the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. White supremacist and National Policy Institute President Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak at Kessler’s event, which is expected to draw alt-right activists and supporters of the Confederacy to downtown Charlottesville on August 12.

Now businesses around the city are joining Unity Cville, a group committed to an inclusive, hate-free Charlottesville. They include Violet Crown Cinema, Paradox Pastry, Bodo’s, Telegraph Arts & Comics, and many others.

Businesses displaying the group's signs say it's important that the community rally together against hate speech.

"Anytime a message is delivered over and over and over again it’s going to be believed. So we need to get that, we are trying to do that. We're trying to say, ‘OK, let’s not go with this message of hate and divisiveness. Let’s get back to our message,’ which is community, collectivity, working together and love,” said Paradox Pastry owner Jenny Peterson.

"We are standing with everyone else, because we feel passionately that everybody sort of should keep hate to a minimum. We here definitely at this shop, we want to be open to everyone's beliefs, as long as it's very positive and make everyone feel as comfortable as they can," said Jake Herman with Telegraph Arts & Comics.

Unity Cville also includes Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, Human Rights Commission, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, and the NAACP.

Plans for alternative events in response to the Unite the Right rally are in the works, including possible counter rallies at McGuffey and Justice parks.

Solidarity Cville and Charlottesville SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) have both asked city officials to revoke the permit for Kessler’s event.

Authorities recently told NBC29 that they are anticipating up to 4,000 people to fill Emancipation Park and the area surrounding it during the rally.

The central branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library (JMRL) will be closed on the day of the rally. All other JMRL branches will remain open.

The JMRL Board of Trustees voted Monday, July 24, to close the branch located along Market Street, which neighbors Emancipation Park.

"The board considered the safety and the access issues. We regret the fact that those exist. They are beyond our control, but we felt it's the only prudent decision we could make is to close the library for that day on August 12th," said JMRL Board President Peter McIntosh.

Hill & Wood Funeral Service, which is next to the park, will also be closed on the day of the rally.

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