Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency after authorities sounded the alarm that “armed militia groups plan to storm the Capitol” and commit “acts of violence” at an upcoming gun rights rally in Richmond.
The emergency declaration, which came after “credible intelligence” was revealed by authorities, will temporarily ban individuals from carrying firearms on Capitol grounds, according to VICE news.
“No weapons will be allowed on Capitol grounds,” said Northam, a Democrat. “Everything from sticks and bats to chains and projectiles…. The list also includes firearms. It makes no sense to ban every other weapon but allow firearms when intelligence shows that armed militia groups plan to storm the Capitol.”
The governor said at a press conference Wednesday that authorities believe “armed militia groups plan to storm the Capitol” during the January 20 rally.
He also said that law enforcement had intercepted threats and “extremist rhetoric” similar to what was observed prior to the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. “We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here,” he said.
In addition to banning weapons on Capitol grounds, Northam also said he’d established a unified command between state police, Capitol police, the Richmond police department, and the city’s first responder teams. This is a critical move — one that’s likely borne out of the lessons learned from the massive law enforcement failures during Unite the Right, which left one dead and dozens injured. Months after that rally, an independent review team released a searing 220-page report analyzing how law enforcement’s disorganization and failure to coordinate across agencies allowed the violent, ugly scenes that unfolded that day.
Northam says that the state of emergency will be lifted on Tuesday, according to the report.