Some Groups Will Stay Away, as the Capitol Prepares for a Busy "Lobby Day"

Jan 17, 2020

Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

Richmond, state and capitol police are all preparing for a busy day Monday, as thousands are expected to descend on the state capitol.

Just outside the Capitol building, fencing has already been put in place around a specific area. There will be one point of entry. Anyone who enters this space will have to go through a metal detector, and per an emergency order from the governor, guns will not be allowed.

But step outside Capitol Square and anything goes because the city of Richmond isn’t allowed to ban guns. Several roads will be blocked from traffic and a heavy police presence is to be expected.

In addition to the gun rallies, Monday is expected to be business as usual for the legislature. Both the House and the Senate will be gaveling in and meeting.

Dueling gun control rallies in Virginia’s capitol Monday are garnering national attention, but there are plenty of other groups that normally lobby Monday and now have to rethink their plans.

Jewel Jordan is Director of Brown Virginia. The nonpartisan group brings folks from across the state to meet with lawmakers and learn about how state government works. Late Thursday, because of the threat of violence, they decided to cancel their annual event.

“Because we didn’t want the children that attend, and the young teenagers, to witness trauma," Jordan says. "We didn’t want them to have to walk across and walk beside men with guns, that were there to intimidate them. Oof - crying again. To intimidate them. We didn’t want that.”

Jordan says she isn’t afraid, but she is hurt that a group like hers has to cancel while others are encouraged to be there - just not with guns.

And so to cancel it on Martin Luther King Day, a man who is so important to my culture, who stood fast and was so brave," she says. "It’s upsetting, upsetting, upsetting…"

Jordan says even though her group can’t be at the capitol Monday, she will be.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has announced they will be cancelling their planned rally on Monday. In a statement, the group's state director Lori Haas says they refuses to engage with those who would harm them.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.