RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Multiple groups marched in rallies to protect gun rights, defunding the police, rent relief and school funding in downtown Richmond on the first day of the General Assembly’s Special Session.
One of the groups, a militia group, was seen chanting, “All the rights to all the people.” The group started the march at the State Capitol grounds.
Guns were a hot topic last session, with universal background checks and the one-handgun-a-month law being signed.
“We’re here to tell them not ‘no’ but ‘hell no,’ we’re not gonna go quiet. We will protest their unconstitutional laws they wanna pass,” said Brandon Howard, president of Right to Bear Arms Virginia.
A group rallying for more school funding is situated outside the Science Museum of Virginia.
Their big concern is how the budget will be handled during this Special Session.
“We’ve not recovered from the last recession and now we might be moving into another or a depression, so school funding is not looking good. So we’re here to let legislators know that we’re still here, we’re still fighting and that school funding is a choice that they’re going to have to make,” said Brionna Nomi, Fund Our Schools Coalition.
A group rallying for rent relief also gathered in the front of the Science Museum.
One of the items they’re pushing is something Governor Ralph Northam has already backed: pausing evictions until April of 2021.
“We knew that housing was a crisis before the pandemic, but now the pandemic has exacerbated the situation,” said Thomas Assefa, New Virginia Majority.
State Delegate Jeff Bourne and other state lawmakers laid out the legislation plans ahead of the General Assembly’s Special Session.
A group participating in the Fund Black Futures March has also gathered outside the State Capital.
One of their demands is the Marcus Alert System, something Democrats already have on the agenda as part of police reform.
This alert would call for mental health professionals to respond to an incident alongside police; this follows the shooting death of Marcus-David Peters by Richmond Police back in 2018.
Tuesday’s march was led by Peters’ sister.
“These bills are not optional, the time is now. There’s a fierce urgency of now that these bills are enacted and they’re not just enabling, but mandatory for all localities within the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Princess Blanding.
A portion of Broad Street was blocked for a couple of hours outside of the Siegel Center during this demonstration.
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