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People Enjoy Night on the Mall Despite Heavy Safety Enforcements

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People came out to the mall Friday night despite a heavy police presence People came out to the mall Friday night despite a heavy police presence
The mall will have restricted access over the weekend The mall will have restricted access over the weekend
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally is looming closer, but that’s not stopping people from coming out to Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall to enjoy their Friday night.

Some people who came to the mall on Friday, August 10, say it felt emptier than usual, but they were glad people still came out to enjoy the warm evening.

“We’re gonna live our lives, you know,” Talley Tillack, who came out to the mall Friday night, said.

Surrounded by a heavy police presence and closed streets, Charlottesville's Downtown Mall played host to an otherwise seemingly normal Friday evening.

“A lot of Charlottesville citizens feel like, you know, this is our town and were gonna live our lives, were not going to let white supremacy keep us from our friends and family even though it is scary, you know, it’s terrifying,” Tillack said.

Mike Rodi, who owns Rapture on the Downtown Mall, felt the crowd was a little thinner than usual but was happy to still see a lot of people out and about.

“I was surprised,” Rodi said. “You know, it’s not quite the usual, like, festive Friday night that we’ve somewhat grown accustomed to.”

He says it’s important to him to keep his restaurant open this weekend.

“If somebody makes an effort to come downtown to support businesses, they have to make a pretty big effort, you know, they've not made the mall super accessible,” Rodi said. “If they do all that and we’re not here to serve them, I kinda feel pretty bad.”

Rachel Inlow visited the mall Friday evening and is one of many people who appreciates the places that are remaining open.

“With everything that went down last year and that seems to be going down this year, we’ve been wanting to support local businesses as it’s harder to get downtown and get around downtown,” Inlow said.

Business owners and patrons are not thrilled with all the police-enforced restrictions.

“It’s kind of overwhelming and intimidating, definitely,” Inlow said.

However, people agree that safety is the top priority this weekend.

“Nobody wants to have to live in a situation like that, but given everything that went on last year, given that there was an attempt that’s kind of fizzled but there was an attempt to kind of bring it back to Charlottesville as they said, I think it’s necessary, honestly,” Rodi said.

Rodi says he plans to be open all weekend.

The Downtown Business Association says at least 15 shops down on the mall will be open Saturday.

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