CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Portions of downtown Charlottesville and the University of Virginia were locked down in preparations for anything that might happen Saturday, August 11.

City officers and members of the Virginia State Police could be seen on and around the Downtown Mall. Barriers have been set up around downtown and the university. Traffic restrictions are also in place for the whole weekend. Governor Ralph Northam declared a  state of emergency for the weekend on Wednesday, August 8.

The added security is in response to the chance of protests and demonstrations in connection to the controversial Unite the Right rally that was held in then-Emancipation Park August 12, 2017. Violent confrontations broke out around the downtown area, including the death of Heather Heyer in a car attack on 4th Street. Two members of the Virginia State Police  - Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, and Virginia State Police Aviation Unit Commander Lt. Jay Cullen - also died that Saturday, when their helicopter crashed in Albemarle County. 

Saturday morning the city announced additional road closures around UVA, which included closing University Avenue at Culbreth Road and Rugby Road at Culbreth Avenue from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. A rally called "VA Students Act Against White Supremacy: Rally for Justice" is expected at UVA at 7 p.m.

We spoke with former Charlottesville mayor Dave Norris and community activist Tanesha Hudson about the increased law enforcement presence on the mall. 

"I think they know that where they stood last year, they kind of understand they just have to take that heat.  So I get the extra police presence and I get safety first.  However, I need people to understand that we didn't really know what type of imminent threat we were up against, this was the purpose it.  I do feel like its admitting guilt that they failed to protect us last year and they're offering us the protection we were begging for last year,” Hudson stated.

"It's the presence of law enforcement officials down here, helicopters flying over head, a very heavy police presence so it's kind of an eerie situation but, you know I, part of me, is a flashback to a year ago tomorrow, when I was in this very spot, this would have been very helpful.  These kinds of barriers, the stronger police presence, this is what we needed last year,” said Norris.

Editor's Note:  This story is developing throughout the day, we will bring you further updates as they become available.

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

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - From 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. this evening, the following road closures and detours in the vicinity of the University of Virginia will be in place:

  • University Avenue at Culbreth Road and Rugby Road at Culbreth Avenue will be closed. This will allow safe pedestrian traffic at the intersection of University and Rugby.
  • Westbound traffic will be detoured up 14th Street to Grady Avenue and Rugby Road to Culbreth.
  • Eastbound traffic will be detoured up Culbreth, to Rugby, to Grady, to 14th Street.
  • University Avenue will remain open in the Eastbound direction only from Chancellor going east.

As a reminder, McCormick Road from Emmet Street to University Avenue is closed until noon on Sunday.

Traffic will be detoured as follows:

During the University Avenue detour, the free Charlottesville Area Transit Trolley that serves downtown Charlottesville and University Transit Service stops will follow the detour.

The City of Charlottesville, Charlottesville Police and all partner agencies involved in safeguarding the city 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 Greater Charlottesville Region 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.