Citing safety concerns, Charlottesville officials announced Monday they’re allowing an upcoming rally of white nationalists only if organizers agree to a different location.
According to a Facebook description of the event, the 'Unite the Right' rally, organized by local blogger Jason Kessler, is meant to defend white southerners rights. It’s expected to draw hundreds, potentially thousands, plus counter-protesters.
The permit for the event was requested for Lee Park, recently re-named Emancipation Park. A group of downtown business owners asked city leaders to move it, citing safety concerns. Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signor, along with other city officials, agreed.
"Given the sheer numbers predicted, the city manager is right to conclude this event is incompatible with the dense and urban location of Emancipation Park, which is right next to our downtown mall," Signer said at a Monday news conference. "However at McIntire Park the voices of all can be heard in a way that's consistent with our duty to the public."
Emancipation Park is about one acre. McIntire Park, a short drive from downtown, is more than 100 acres. City Manager Maurice Jones says he believes its a good compromise.
“We believe that the proposal to move the demonstration to McIntire Park strikes an appropriate balance between Mr.Kessler’s right to organize a demonstration on the one hand, and a city’s obligation to maintain public safety and protect public and private property on the other,” said Jones during the press conference.
Shortly after the decision was announced, Kessler responded via Facebook Live, saying it’s not over yet. He says he’ll sue the city, and McIntire Park has nothing to do with his cause.
“What has to do with the Robert E. Lee monument is Lee Park and the Lee statue," Kessler said, "so that’s where we’re going to be.”