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The nation’s capital gears up for ‘Unite the Right 2’ on one-year anniversary of Charlottesville rally

White supremacists will gather in Lafayette Park Sunday, MPD says they are well-equipped to handle demonstration

<p>Sunday's white supremacist rally will be held in Lafayette Park, directly across from the White House in Washington, D.C.</p>

Sunday's white supremacist rally will be held in Lafayette Park, directly across from the White House in Washington, D.C.

With this weekend marking the one-year anniversary of last August’s deadly rally in Charlottesville, a group of white supremacists will head to the nation’s capital for a sequel to last year’s events. 

Organizer Jason Kessler received a permit from the National Park Service this week to hold “Unite the Right 2” in Washington, D.C. on Sunday. Kessler was also the organizer for last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Kessler previously applied for a permit to host a anniversary rally in Charlottesville and sued the City when the permit was denied. Two weeks ago, he withdrew his motion to force the City to give him a permit, just before a judge was set to rule on it. 

According to the permit, between 100 and 400 people are expected at the rally to protest “civil rights abuse in Charlottesville, VA.” Rally participants will assemble at 2 p.m. at the Vienna Metro station in Vienna, Va. Beginning at 5 p.m., they are expected to march along Pennsylvania Avenue from Foggy Bottom Metro station to Lafayette Park, located directly across from the White House. The demonstration, which is approved to last for up to two hours, is expected to consist of several speakers, including Kessler and well-known white supremacist David Duke. 

Road closures are expected in the areas surrounding Lafayette Park and Foggy Bottom. 

In a press conference held Thursday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a mayor’s order, activating the District’s Emergency Operation Center. Police Chief Peter Newsham assured the community that the Metropolitan Police Department was well-equipped to handle large-scale demonstrations, stating they have been planning for the rally alongside local and federal partners for months. 

“MPD safely facilitates demonstrations on a daily basis in this city, and our goal of safeguarding everyone and ensuring property is not damaged will not deviate with this particular event,” Newsham said. 

Newsham said the rules for First Amendment assemblies in the city have always been the same, and injury to persons or damage of property will not be tolerated by police. While D.C. law already prohibits licensed guns on public transportation, he also noted that carrying licensed guns in and around the demonstration areas will be prohibited on Sunday.

According to The Washington Post, as many as 1,500 counterprotestors are planning to gather in Lafayette Park and the areas surrounding it. Newsham said the goal of law enforcement throughout “the entire operational period” will be to keep the two groups separated. 

“The reason for separation is because we have seen in the past that when these two groups are in the same area at the same time, it leads to violent confrontations,” Newsham said. “Every police action that you will see on Sunday will be done with the ultimate goal of ensuring the safety of everyone that attends.”

Cavalier Daily editors Alexis Gravely and Thomas Roades will be reporting on events Washington, D.C. this weekend. Follow them on Twitter at @_AlexisWasHere and @RoadesToGlory.