The Republican leader in Virginia has told groups planning to spread “white supremacist garbage” at a pro-gun rally today to stay away, with thousands due to descend on the state capital.
Todd Gilbert joined Ralph Northam, the Democrat governor, to plead for peace as fears grew violence could erupt with far-right militias joining pro-gun activists in a march on the seat of government in Richmond.
The rally has been called to protest against sweeping gun-control measures proposed by Mr Northam’s administration. “Lobby Day is a time for people to peacefully assemble and petition their government. It is not a place for hate and violence,” Mr Gilbert said.
“Any group that comes to Richmond to spread white supremacist garbage, or any other form of hate, violence, or civil unrest isn’t welcome here.”
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The display of unity came against a backdrop of rising tension since the arrest of several members of The Base, a neo-Nazi group, last week.
Fearing the rally could become a repetition of the riot in Charlottesville in 2017, in which one person died, Mr Northam declared a state of emergency. Leaders of ‘Unite the Right’ groups, such as the Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia, which was present at Charlottesville, said they were planning to go to Richmond.
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