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Virginia governor declares emergency ahead of Charlottesville anniversary

By Danielle Haynes
Virginia governor declares emergency ahead of Charlottesville anniversary
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a declaration allocating $2 million in state resources ahead of events marking the one-year anniversary of the deadly "Unite the Right" rally. File Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville declared states of emergency Wednesday ahead of planned events to mark the one-year anniversary of a deadly "Unite the Right" rally.

The declaration will be in place Friday through Sunday for events in and around Charlottesville and Washington, D.C. Northam's statement said the action will give state agencies the necessary tools to "perform actions outside the scope of normal operations."

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This weekend marks one year since protesters gathered, some in opposition to the removal of Confederate statues, others in support of white nationalist, white supremacist or alt-right ideology. They clashed with counterprotesters, resulting in at least 30 injuries.

On Aug. 12, James Alex Fields Jr., was accused of driving his vehicle into a group of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer. Fields was charged with 29 hate crimes in June. Two Virginia State Police troopers also died that weekend when their helicopter, assisting with public safety during the rally, crashed Aug. 12.

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"Virginia continues to mourn the three Virginians who lost their lives in the course of the demonstrations a year ago. We hope the anniversary of those events passes peacefully," Gov. Northam said. "I am urging Virginians to make alternative plans to engaging with planned demonstrations of hate, should those arise."

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Charlottesville's interim city manager, Mike Murphy, said the city was collaborating with state agencies, Albemarle County and the University of Virginia to plan for potential violence.

"We join the commonwealth in declaring a state of emergency in advance of these planned events to ensure all available resources are in place and that we are fully prepared to keep the peace in Charlottesville August 10-12," he said.

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The declaration allocates $2 million in funds to pay for state resources ahead of the weekend's events.

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