At a press conference today, Charlottesville police Captain Victor Mitchell estimated there would be between 2,000 and 6,000 people here on Saturday and said many downtown streets and sidewalks will be closed for the upcoming Unite the Right rally
Mitchell is incident commander for both McIntire Park, where the city wishes Jason Kessler would take his white nationalist assembly, and Emancipation Park, where Kessler has vowed he will hold his protest, with the ACLU of Virginia and the Rutherford Institute supporting his right to be there,
“We are prepared for multiple possibilities and the Charlottesville Police Department, with assistance from the Virginia State Police, has plans in place to protect citizens in both parks,” says Mitchell.
Police will be present at McIntire, should someone decide to protest or counter-protest there. The entrance to the park from the U.S. 250 Bypass will be closed, and Kessler’s people can park at McIntire, while counter-protesters must park at Charlottesville High, says Mitchell.
But the real action will be downtown, Mitchell acknowledged. “There will be a number of road and sidewalk closures,” he says. “We anticipate large crowds downtown that will necessitate road closures around Emancipation Park.”
Albemarle and University police will handle the city’s 911 calls, and he advised citizens not to be surprised when an officer shows up not wearing the city uniform.
City police have been in touch with many law enforcement agencies, says Mitchell, but the details he released were few.
When asked how police would keep the alt-whites and antifas apart, replies Mitchell, “The best we can.”
He answered a question about whether the city had put police in a difficult position when it said would grant Kessler’s permit if he moved to McIntire Park: “It would be beneficial to us if Mr. Kessler would move. We are in a difficult spot.”
There are no restrictions on weapons at Emancipation, the park formerly known as Lee, but he cautioned those who might be coming to Charlottesville with violent intentions that there would be consequences.
Green indicates road open, blue and red mean no go.