RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Groups expecting to hold events on Lobby Day were told that their applications were denied Tuesday, as Virginia’s Department of General Services plans to close Capitol Square for at least a week starting Thursday to prepare for any potential civil unrest in Richmond.
Capitol Square will be closed Jan. 14 through at least Jan. 21 and that access to all DGS-controlling buildings will be off limits from Jan. 16 through Jan. 21, DGS announced Wednesday. The decision from the department comes amid reports of federal authorities issuing a warning of armed protests planned at all 50 state capitals and a third state of emergency in the city.
“DGS informed those who had applied for events on Capitol Square for Monday, January 18, that those applications were denied. Efforts by our agency and our law enforcement partners to prepare for reported civil unrest in the coming days mean resources that would have been available to accommodate those events will be dedicated to other areas,” spokeswoman Dena Potter said in an email Tuesday. “Additionally, we will close Capitol Square in the coming days as we take steps to secure the grounds. We work closely with our law enforcement partners on all matters concerning security in and around Capitol Square, and as stewards of these historic grounds we feel it’s important to be prepared.”
Potter also said that additional fencing will be placed in some areas and that steps to fortify buildings in and adjacent to Capitol Square will begin Wednesday. Depending on the circumstances, security measures may have to change.
Four groups hoping to have demonstrations on Lobby Day were working with the department in order hold events that followed coronavirus guidelines limiting gatherings to 10 people:
- Care in Action – Virginia Chapter
- Virginia Center for Public Safety
- Progress Virginia
- New Virginia Majority
In the end, each were sent letters from DGS informing them that their permits were denied.