Lobby Day: Security increased at Virginia Capitol, firearms prohibited


RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WAVY) — Authorities in Virginia’s capital city are reminding people to leave their guns at home if they plan to protest outside the statehouse.

Richmond police say signs are being posted in advance of events surrounding Lobby Day 2021 reminding people that firearms are prohibited at permitted events and events that would otherwise require a permit, as well as in adjacent public areas.

Lobby Day falls on Monday, Jan. 18, this year. The term refers to the time when public interest groups gather at the statehouse to express their views on public policy issues.

Those groups include supporters of gun rights. Last year on Lobby Day, 22,000 people rallied in Richmond, most of them armed, but the protest ended peacefully.

But this year, security experts are concerned extremist groups may try to blend in for a potential repeat of what happened on Jan. 6 in Washington.

Capitol square in Richmond is fenced, windows boarded up and signs remind people no guns are allowed. The Virginia Citizens Defense League did not get a permit for the rally, so the group will have a caravan.

Pro-gun rights organizer Phillip Van Cleave says he does not have any control over who shows up.

“There is no way I have control over that. We are staying in touch with the police. It’s their job to keep their eyes out for trouble makers. We are not police. We are not there to enforce the laws, we have no control.”

Capitol Police in Washington arrested a Virginia man for allegedly trying to enter through a Washington, D.C. checkpoint armed with a gun, ammunition, and fake credentials, according to court documents released Saturday.

Then on Sunday, Capitol Police say they arrested a Connecticut woman at an inauguration security checkpoint for impersonating a law enforcement officer.

WAVY will have more coverage of Lobby Day later today. Check back for updates.

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