With a massive police preparation hoping for the best, but readying for the worst, all are thankful in Richmond, VA today that the rally is now winding down and no violence was committed. Despite signs with crossed-out swastikas and chants like “No Trump, No KKK no Fascist USA,” some of the pro-Confederate rallyers were eager for a real dialogue and didn’t appear to be racists (and, in at least one case, didn’t appear to be white either).
This seemed to be due to two factors: proper police prep unlike what was done in Charlottesville, which greatly exacerbated the violence, and a tiny group of rallyers that was almost comically small compared to the large groups of counter-protesters that surrounded them. In Charlottesville, both groups were large, and police set up zero barriers between the two warring factions, nor did they confiscate weapons. Here, as in the Boston rally last month, the group of actual rallyers was miniscule, making the counter-rally the real event of the day, weapons were taken away, and barriers were well-placed. Lastly, though masks are always illegal for street protests in Virginia, this rule was not enforced in Charlottesville. In Richmond, it was.
And, like in Boston, the violence was extremely minimal. Police didn’t even allow helmets, for fear they would be weaponized, and had set up dump trucks and buses to block alleys and side streets to prevent a Charlottesville-type catastrophe. Only two incidents occurred — organizers’ tires were slashed, and one woman was arrested for disorderly conduct. In addition the heavy police presence on the ground, a surveillance plane and several drones were in use, as well as a patrolling helicopter.
Video below showing some of the conversations and debates, along with some of the requisite screaming: