On Saturday, Charlottesville, VA will be hosting a variety of activities as a way of providing citizens something positive to focus on. These alternate activities run on a day that is also scheduled for a Ku Klux Klan chapter’s march over the city council’s decision to remove a Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park (formerly Lee Park).
The council’s decision to remove the statue of Lee has attracted a number of opposing groups’ attention. Mayor Michael Signer’s hope is, through preparedness with city officials and police, Saturday will conclude without incident.
“Public safety is our most sacrosanct duty to our public and our visitors,” Signer said. He further explains that, “If any one of these people breaks any law, including those governing assault and disorderly conduct, they will be swiftly dealt with and brought to justice.”
Klan rally marchers are expected to be in the area of Justice Park, while Charlottesville leaders, numerous community groups, churches, organizations, and businesses are finding alternative fun, and positive activities to do around town. The city, along with these groups, are presenting activities for all ages, concerts, and prayer services away from the protest site.
“I was concerned that a bunch of people were going to go and give these folks exactly what they were looking for, which is attention,” explains one owner of a local brewery, Hunter Smith. Smith says he wants to give city residents a way to express solidarity on Saturday, rather than confrontation with marchers. “The best-case scenario is that these guys come in and have their sad little rally and talk to themselves and leave and that we demonstrate that this is not a place that will be divided.”