First Responders Prep Community on Plans for Aug. 11-12 Weekend

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From access points to prohibited items, we now have a better understanding of what to expect over the anniversary weekend of the Unite the Right rally.

On Wednesday, August 8, states of emergency were declared for the city of Charlottesville and the state as a whole, and law enforcement and emergency responders have started arriving in preparation for the weekend.

First responders and planning leaders addressed the media Wednesday afternoon.

If you plan on coming to downtown Charlottesville over the weekend of August 11 and 12, it's not going to be easy. The Downtown Mall will have just two entry points, and there’s a list of items you can’t carry with you.

“The two entry points will be at First Street South and Water Street, and at Second Street Southeast and Water Street," Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville’s communications director, said.

Virginia is an open-carry state, so guns are allowed.

“We are attempting to balance your Second Amendment rights with also those populations who feel targeted and vulnerable," RaShall Brackney, Charlottesville’s police chief, said.

However, there are many other items that are restricted.

“BB Guns, pellet guns, air rifles, or pistols, paintball guns, pellet guns, metal pipes, pepper or bear spray,” Wheeler said.

A person with any of these items will be denied entry to the defined security area.

“We've said this is the plan we think needs to protect public safety,” Wheeler said. “The number-one thing in there is making sure vehicles and pedestrians are kept separate.”

More than 1,000 law enforcement officers will be in the area this weekend.

On Wednesday, some first responders were already arriving at John Paul Jones Arena.

“Residents can expect to see that,” Ron Lantz, chief of the Albemarle County Police Department, said. “They can expect to see officers at various places in the county to include parks, parking lots, large parking lots, things like that."

Governor Northam has declared a state of emergency for the entire state.

“The guard under the governor’s order is activating military, police, and troops who are specially trained to support law enforcement,” Jeff Stern, of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, said.

Gloria Graham, who works for the University of Virginia, says the Level 1 Trauma Center hospital is ready.

Graham also added that UVA is working to make the weekend a period of reflection versus the violence seen at the university last year.

“We don't expect to get instant grace for things that folks think that didn't go well in times past,” says Graham. “But what we ask is that you join us in moving forward and reflecting."

The Virginia State Department of Planning and Budget has set aside $2 million in funding for this planning.

The city of Charlottesville says it doesn't have a price estimate at this time.

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