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Updated: Folks Weigh In on Accessing Downtown Mall Security Area

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Security checkpoint on the Downtown Mall Security checkpoint on the Downtown Mall
Members of Virginia State Police on the Downtown Mall Members of Virginia State Police on the Downtown Mall
Item confiscated by authorities (Photo courtesy Charlottesville) Item confiscated by authorities (Photo courtesy Charlottesville)
Item confiscated by authorities (Photo courtesy Charlottesville) Item confiscated by authorities (Photo courtesy Charlottesville)
Security checkpoint on the Downtown Mall Security checkpoint on the Downtown Mall
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

People accessing the Downtown Mall Saturday have mixed emotions about all the extra security. Some are frustrated, while others say they understand the need for the police presence.

“It’s a low-impact event coming into Downtown Mall, but it’s odd to have to walk a checkpoint and all the police, I mean, gosh there are just bunches of them,” said Lisa Goff.

“It’s not important that we are here, but it seemed important to us that we come down here and try to act contribute to normality. But it’s not a normal day,” said Steve Arata.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers from a variety of agencies are patrolling around Charlottesville Saturday, August 11. They are at the ready for any potential protest, demonstration, or acts in connection with the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally at then-Emancipation Park, now named Market Street Park.

A side street of the Downtown Mall was the scene of a violent incident last year: James Alex Fields Jr. is accused of driving into a crowd marching on 4th Street, injuring dozens, and killing Heather Heyer. Meanwhile, clashes between groups had broken out along Market Street earlier that day.

Security is tight around much of the downtown area for Saturday through Sunday, August 12. Normally, the Downtown Mall would be bustling, but the security restrictions are having an effect on the area.

“Initially I was pretty angry about everything shutting down, and I was like, I feel like that is the opposite of what we should be doing. But I also understand it. I understand it for safety measures,” Anna Dinwiddie said.

Anyone who wants to access the pedestrian mall has to go through one of two entrance checkpoints, which includes being searched by police. Folks are barred from bringing in many items – listed below.

“They took my bicycle lock away from me,” said Randolph Taylor. “I could have a gun in my pocket, but they are worried about my bicycle lock."

“I mean I get the point. It seems like overkill to me, personally. Like the police presence, I think, they are compensating for not doing anything last year,” Carl Gaines said.

"They were just standing there in their riot gear, but didn't do a thing. And then this year, I think they have gone the other way where I think they are making onerous to get down here,” said Mark Martin. “It’s hard just to be citizens today.”

Authorities said police have confiscated several items, including a pair of brass knuckles, a razor, a multi-purpose knife and aerosol cans.


08/11/2018 Release from the City of Charlottesville:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - Several hundred people have made their way into the downtown security area since the perimeter was established at approximately 8 a.m. Saturday (Aug. 11, 2018). The majority of those passing through the access points have been in compliance with the city ordinance prohibitions. However, several items have been confiscated from individuals accessing the security area, including a pair of brass knuckles, a razor, a multi-purpose knife and aerosol cans.

Law enforcement personnel at the access points to the downtown security area will be enforcing the prohibited object restrictions as ordered by the Charlottesville City Manager. All persons and bags are being consensually searched for prohibited objects and cleared for access to the security perimeter. An individual has the right to refuse the search of his/her bag. No one is being denied entry. However, unsearched bags/purses/backpacks/packages will not be allowed entry into the access area.

The following items are prohibited within the downtown security area:

BB Guns, Pellet Guns, Air Rifles or Pistols, Paintball Guns, Nunchucks, Tasers, Stun Guns, Heavy Gauge Metal Chains, Lengths of Lumber or Wood, Poles, Bricks, Rocks, Metal Beverage or Food Cans or Containers, Glass Bottles, Axes, Axe Handles, Hatchets, Ice Picks, Acidic or Caustic Materials, Hazardous or Flammable or Combustible Liquids, Skateboards, Swords, Knives, Daggers, Razor Blades or Other Sharp Items, Metal Pipes, Pepper or Bear Spray, Mace, Aerosol Sprays, Catapults, Wrist Rockets, Bats, Sticks, Clubs, Drones, Explosives, Fireworks, Open Fire or Open Flames, and Any Other Item Considered an “Implement of Riot.”

The City of Charlottesville, Charlottesville Police and all partner agencies involved in safeguarding the Greater Charlottesville Region throughout the weekend continue to remain vigilant in anticipation of planned events. Media advisories and other informational releases will be disseminated as necessary to provide significant situational updates.

Citizens and media outlets seeking information related to current events in the Charlottesville area are encouraged to follow social media accounts for the City of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. These channels are the most official and immediate sources of information during the weekend. Any statements or photos issued via these accounts are to be considered official and approved for media use.

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