State Recommendations After Charlottesville

Dec 6, 2017

White nationalist demonstrators hold their ground against Virginia State Police as police fire tear gas rounds in Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
Credit (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  A task force appointed by the governor has released its findings in a review of what happened in Charlottesville on August 12th.  The group came up with a series of recommendations for more than 130 communities where confederate monuments are found.  



There were many points of agreement between the governor’s task force and former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy who released his recommendations last week.  Among other things, the two concluded police need more training.

“You never can do enough training for an event of this kind, ”said  Secretary of Public Safety and Task Force Chair Brian Moran. He added that cities, towns and counties also need to review the way they issue permits in light of what happened in Charlottesville.

Click here to read the full Governor's Task Force report

“We are recommending to our localities to adopt robust permitting process, because we have a number of confederate monuments, and these actors that descended on Charlottesville on August 12th are very organized and many of them are intent on committing violence,” Moran said.

And at the American Civil Liberties Union, Director Claire Gastenaga says she’s ready to help. “I’ve spoken to the municipal league.  I’ve interacted with a number of localities that are looking at their rules and regs.  We want to be a part of making sure that people know how to do their job and do it right and do it constitutionally.”

The key, she says, is to understand that whatever rules are made must apply to all groups requesting the use of public properties. Take Richmond’s Monument Avenue for example. “They can say 'We don’t think the space will accommodate more than X people' as long as they apply that to the Monument Avenue 10-K and the Easter parade, and every other kind of speech that could take place there," Gastenaga said.

In addition, the task force proposed better communications with the public before, during and after demonstrations.  In his review of Charlottesville’s performance, former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy agrees, calling for better use of social media. “We have to communicate public safety goals, potential threats, crowd control strategies, overall expectations well in advance of protest events. Not just posting something on the website or putting out a press release.  We still have kind of an old school approach to city communications," Heaphy says.

He and the governor’s task force also agree that police need special training and should rely more on outside expertise from agencies like the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.