RICHMOND, Va. – Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order temporarily stopping permits from being issued and prohibiting demonstrations at the Lee Monument in Richmond.
The order is in effect until new emergency regulations have been approved and implemented by the Virginia Department of General Services, his office said in a release.
Governor McAuliffe made this decision based on the incidents at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on August 12.
The order aims to set fair and consistent rules to both protect first amendment rights and prevent threats to public safety, according to the Governor’s office.
“In spite of weeks of preparation, the city of Charlottesville was the target of an act of domestic terrorism that cost one woman her life, and had a helicopter accident lead to the deaths of two state troopers,” said Governor McAuliffe. “In the aftermath of this tragedy, several groups have requested permits to hold similar-styled events at the Lee Monument in Richmond. State and local officials need to get ahead of this problem, so that we have the proper legal protections in place to allow for peaceful demonstrations, but without putting citizens and property at risk. Let me be clear, this executive order has nothing to do with infringing upon first amendment rights. This is a temporary suspension, issued with the singular purpose of creating failsafe regulations to preserve the health and well-being of our citizens and ensuring that nothing like what occurred in Charlottesville happens again.”
McAuliffe will issue a related executive order for a task force to study the safety concerns that arose from the events of August 12.
Permits allow for assemblies to gather from sunrise until 11:00 p.m. and the Governor’s office said the conditions of the permits create major public safety concerns and present serious threats to both traffic and private property.