The Bulletin

Police from around the state pouring into Charlottesville

By: - August 8, 2018 7:07 pm
A parking lot outside a UVA dorm was filled with hundreds of state police cruisers on Wednesday afternoon. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Aug. 8, 2018)

A parking lot outside a UVA dorm was filled with hundreds of state police cruisers in advance of the one year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in 2017. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury – Aug. 8, 2018)

A parking lot outside a UVA dorm was filled with hundreds of state police cruisers on Wednesday afternoon. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Aug. 8, 2018)
A parking lot outside a UVA dorm was filled with hundreds of state police cruisers on Wednesday afternoon. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury – Aug. 8, 2018)

CHARLOTTESVILLE — A dive team. A giant emergency management trailer. Vans and SUVs tagged with the insignia of every major locality in central Virginia. And squad cars — hundreds and hundreds of State Police squad cars.

They’re all already on the ground in Charlottesville as of Wednesday afternoon.

Their arrival isn’t exactly a surprise. Police had said they’d have a “vast” presence in town for the anniversary of last year’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally. Numbers shared Wednesday put the figure at 700 troopers over the course of the weekend and 300 members of the National Guard on standby. That’s all in addition to local police.

But that they’re here two days before the weekend, when they essentially plan to lock down the entire downtown area, speaks to the level of concern among state officials in avoiding a repeat of last year’s chaos, even though this year not a single white supremacist or white nationalist group has announced plans to come to town.

Police are restricting access to a large portion of downtown, which will only be accessible through two entry points marked by stars. Police will screen people as they enter for banned items - pretty much anything that could be used as a weapon except guns, which the city cant ban under Virginia law.
Police are restricting access to a large portion of downtown, which will only be accessible through two entry points marked by stars. Police will screen people as they enter for banned items – pretty much anything that could be used as a weapon except guns, which the city cant ban under Virginia law.

UVA appears to be housing out-of-town officers in its dorms, the parking lots of which were stuffed with squad cars. And the school’s John Paul Jones Arena appears to once again be serving as a staging center —  the location of the aforementioned trucks, trailers and vans, including vehicles with Chesterfield, Richmond and Henrico fire department insignia.

I reported Tuesday that Gov. Ralph Northam was already planning to declare a state of emergency, freeing up more funds and forces. On Wednesday afternoon, the declaration came, generating a flurry of national media coverage.

Around downtown, however, it was more or less business as usual, save for what appeared to heavier than normal police patrols. Some shops on the downtown pedestrian mall put up signs indicating they’d be closed through the weekend.

New Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall M. Brackney said in a press conference that law enforcement would begin the “operational period” on Friday at 6 p.m. and continue through Monday morning.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Ned Oliver
Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association.

MORE FROM AUTHOR