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Northam Declares State of Emergency, Invokes ‘Mayhem and Violence’ of Charlottesville ahead of Pro-Gun Rally

Virginia governor Ralph Northam speaks during a news conference at the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, Va., February 2, 2019. (Jay Paul/Reuters)

On Wednesday, Virginia governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency ahead of an annual second-amendment demonstration expected to draw thousands next Monday, and announced a ban on all weapons in the state capitol building, citing “credible intelligence” of “groups with malicious plans.”

Northam implied the rally, hosted by Virginia Citizens Defense League ahead of the passage of a number of gun-control bills by the Democratic-led legislature, was motivating “violent rhetoric” that mirrored the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the FBI arrested three members of a neo-Nazi group called The Base, who had discussed attending the Richmond rally.

“No one wants another incident like the one we saw in Charlottesville,” Northam said. “We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here.”

Northam said that while “I believe” the organizers of the rally, Virginia Citizens Defense League, when they state the protests will be peaceful, “they have unleashed something much larger, something they may not be able to control.”

“Intelligence shows a threat of armed militia groups storming our capitol,” Northam stated. “. . . I call on them to discourage people from other states from coming to Virginia with violent intent. Hate, intimidation, and violence have no place here.”

Northam supports a number of gun control measures, including universal background checks, a “red-flag-law” to allow for the gun-seizure, and setting a once-per-month limit on gun purchases. His efforts have sparked a grassroots movement in Virginia to resist the initiatives. A number of municipalities have already declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”

Update 4:00 p.m.: As part of a long-running investigation, the FBI arrested three suspected Neo-Nazis who were reportedly planning to traveling to the rally next week in Richmond, Virginia.

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