Charlottesville City Councilors to Hold Closed-Door Meeting on Unite the Right Rally

Posted: Updated: Aug 01, 2017 03:55 PM

The Charlottesville City Council is trying to figure out what it can do in response to a planned rally at Emancipation Park next weekend.

Councilors are expected to hold a special meeting inside City Hall Wednesday, August 2, to go over legal and planning options for the Unite the Right rally.

White activist Jason Kessler is organizing the rally, which is said to be in support of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the park. Earlier this year, a majority of councilors voted in favor of removing the statue from what was then known as Lee Park.

Members and leaders of the alt-right movement, as well as white supremacists, are expected to participate in Kessler’s rally. The organizer expects hundreds of supporters to gather from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, August 12, at the park.

Sources have previously told NBC29 that authorities believe thousands of people will crowd the area in and around Emancipation Park, including those protesting the rally.

"This is not about freedom of speech, this is about public safety to me. We're right in the middle of the economic engine of the city. We have churches, we have preschools, we have schools, we have synagogues, charitable organizations. Everything is right around here, and there's a good chance that tear gas will be deployed. People are looking to provoke, and make this something for their side," said Charlottesville City Councilor Bob Fenwick.

Councilors will likely get an update on the projected number of attendants during Wednesday’s meeting. They will also discuss legal options, management perspective, and a potential venue change for the rally.

"This is one small park. We have another park, McIntire Park, which has a connection because Paul Goodloe McIntire gave that statue to the city. There's a connection. There's not the traffic problems. Easy in, easy out. We can manager bigger crowds," Fenwick said.

Kessler had previously declined to move the location of the rally from Emancipation Park.

The meeting will not be open to the public, though officials tell NBC29 that councilors will speak to the press after they are done.

Kessler declined to comment about Charlottesville City Council’s special meeting.

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