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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS/AP) — Charlottesville, Virginia is under a state of emergency for the first anniversary of the “Unite The Right” rally on Sunday.
Starting Friday night, there will be a secure perimeter established in downtown Charlottesville.
That includes street closures and parking restrictions.
Officials said the declaration would streamline state and local operations this weekend while also allocating $2 million in state funds. The declaration authorizes the Virginia National Guard to assist in security efforts.
Law enforcement officials said there will be a heavy police presence meant to deter any violence.
Virginia State Police Superintendent Gary Settle said more than 700 state police will be activated during the weekend and “state police is fully prepared to act” to prevent any incidents like last year.
Only one organizer of last summer’s rally in Charlottesville seems intent on publicly marking the anniversary. Jason Kessler has vowed to press ahead with plans for an Aug. 12 rally in Washington, D.C. after Charlottesville denied him a permit.
Authorities faced unrelenting criticism for their handling of last year’s rally and an independent review that found serious police and government failures in responding to violence at the “Unite the Right” rally. It drew hundreds of white nationalists from across the country to the Virginia college town.
Chaos erupted before the event even began, with participants and counterprotesters brawling in the street. During last year’s rally, a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, was killed when a car drove into a crowd protesting against the white nationalists, and dozens more were injured.
The man accused in that attack, James Alex Fields of Ohio, has been charged with first-degree murder.
Two state troopers who had been monitoring the event also were killed when their helicopter crashed.
The independent review by former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy was sharply critical of both the city and state police, saying both “failed to ‘stand up’ to protect human life.”
Several city officials left their jobs in the months after the rally. The city attorney took a new job, the city manager’s contract was not renewed, a spokeswoman quit and the police chief, who was 50 at the time, retired after less than two years on the job.
Following the tragedy that happened in Charlottesville, Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long spoke out against the violence that happened in his hometown at a team practice.
“I do think it’s despicable,” Long said. “It’s hard not to get angry.”
Long played high school football at St. Anne’s-Belfield in Charlottesville before attending the University of Virginia. He says it’s always difficult to see a sub-culture that promotes white supremacy in America. But when it happens in your hometown, he says, it’s especially alarming.
“These people are congregating because Charlottesville is trying to do the right things,” he said, “renaming two parks named after Confederate generals, talking about moving monuments. Not destroying them, moving them possibly to a Confederate museum.”
At the time, the Eagles player said he supported the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.
Several peaceful events are planned in Charlottesville to commemorate last year’s event and promote racial healing. The city is planning to establish a “defined security area” downtown where weapons will be banned.
Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney said the goal for that community is to have a peaceful weekend.
The police chief says the goal is for a peaceful weekend.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)