Video by Ford Fischer
Story and Photos by Carter Adams
Additional video by Sean CW Korsgaard
Approximately 22,000 demonstrators descended on the Capitol District in Richmond, Virginia Monday to voice concerns over proposed state gun control legislation and to show their support for the second amendment.
A planned ‘Militia March on Richmond’ event coincided with Lobby Day, the Virginia Citizen’s Defense League’s (VCDL) annual petition to state government to maintain their second amendment rights without restriction.
Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency ahead of the event, citing his fear of a repeat of the deadly 2017 rally in Charlottesville. Despite anxiety over the event turning violent, no violence or arrests reportedly occurred during the event.
“This is the safest place in the world right now,” Shane, a gun owner in attendance, said.
Chain-link fencing and security checkpoints separated Lobby Day rally goers depending on if they entered capitol grounds or not. Those entering the capitol grounds were made to comply with a ban on various items and weapons including guns, torches and nun-chucks to enter the enclosed grounds.
Starting before sunrise, hundreds stood in line to enter the grounds, unarmed, to voice their concerns over proposed legislation.
Sheriff S. H. Jenkins said that sheriffs and commonwealth attorneys need to stand up to gun laws.
“There is a line that we will not allow to be crossed when it comes to the Second Amendment,” he said.
For demonstrators not on capitol grounds, less restrictions applied. Hundreds openly carried long guns, the most common being variants of the AR-15, which proposed legislation would ban.
Numerous militias, armed and often in full gear, made a presence in the overflowing streets surrounding the Statehouse.
Lightfoot Militia, a civilian paramilitary organization present at the Charlottesville riots, was in attendance. The group marched through the streets with full color guard representing the militias multiple nationwide chapters, dispersing after presenting arms on north tenth street and singing ‘God Bless the U.S.A.,’ by Lee Greenwood.
Chants of “USA USA USA,” “Don’t Tread on Me” and “Sic Semper Tyrannis,” could be heard billowing from demonstrators at any given moment.
Along the many closed roads and street corners pop up shops sold clothing items popular with supporters of President Trump.
“Don’t be a Democrat, get yourself a Trump hat,” yelled one vendor to passersby.
“The man under the sheet wants to take your guns” was a common slogan on many signs, capitalizing on Gov. Northam’s blackface scandal. Official VCDL signs depicted a photo of two men, one is believed to be the Governor in either blackface or a Klu Klux Klan outfit. “We want black owned rifles not black faced governors,” chanted demonstrators.
Hundreds of Richmond City Police and Virginia State Police officers were stationed across the capitol district, often manning barriers between sidewalks and off-limits roads.
One woman was reportedly arrested after the rally for allegedly wearing and refusing to remove a bandana.
Many attendees of the event covered their faces in balaclavas, bandanas and scarves. One unnamed police officer reportedly claimed they allowed masks due to the cold weather.
Alex Jones, a popular conspiracy theorist, made an appearance in his customized MRAP troop transport. Jones was greeted eagerly and warmly by large crowds of people between rides in his armored vehicle.
“You all keep thanking me, but I want to thank you!” Jones yelled after addressing a huddled group of journalists and supporters, “for being true American citizens!”