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Charlottesville City Council: Unite the Right Rally Will Happen for Time Being

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Charlottesville city officials at a closed door meeting Charlottesville city officials at a closed door meeting
Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer
Charlottesville City Council member Kristin Szakos (left) and Charlottesville Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy (right) Charlottesville City Council member Kristin Szakos (left) and Charlottesville Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy (right)
Jason Kessler with members of a motorcycle club in front of Charlottesville Police Department (FILE IMAGE) Jason Kessler with members of a motorcycle club in front of Charlottesville Police Department (FILE IMAGE)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

White activist Jason Kessler’s Unite the Right rally planned for August 12 in Emancipation Park will happen, for now.

Charlottesville City Council sat behind closed doors for hours Wednesday looking at options to stop the event which is expected to draw thousands.

The city says it had to carefully craft a release about what happened at council's private meeting, but in the end, council says there’s nothing it can do at this point to stop the rally.

After four hours behind closed doors, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer wasn't in a talking mood about the fate of the controversial rally on August 12.

“We are trying to be really careful about this right now and that's why it took us a long time in there. We were really reviewing issues carefully,” Signer said.

Sources tell NBC29 council gathered its legal options about how to handle the Unite the Right rally. It even talked with an outside lawyer for help.

“There was a lot of good conversation that took place. We received and reviewed a lot of different information,” explained Charlottesville Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy.

Those at the closed door meeting included Charlottesville City Council members, Charlottesville city attorney, members of Virginia State Police, and Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas.

Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones, currently on vacation, teleconferenced in.

No one would provide real answers about attendance numbers, a security plan, or what the city actually thought it could do to prevent the rally from happening or move it from its downtown location.

“We were just discussing legal options. We weren't making logistical plans or anything,” said Charlottesville City Council member Kristin Szakos.

“City staff and council will share information with the public as soon as possible,” said Charlottesville spokeswoman Miriam Dickler.

In a statement Kessler said, "The rally is about supporting the Robert E. Lee monument so any motion to force supporters from demonstrating in front of the monument is a deliberate infringement of our First Amendment rights."

The Unite the Right rally will still happen after Charlottesville City Council appears to have exhausted all its legal options to stop it. 

A news conference is set for August 7 to provide unspecified details. 

Statement from City of Charlottesville:

“This evening, Charlottesville City Council met in closed session to consult with legal counsel and staff regarding the best options to keep the community safe during the August 12 Unite the Right Rally while preserving the 1st amendment rights of participants.
 
City staff and Council will share information with the public as soon as possible.
 
There is no further comment at this time.”

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