Gun fanatics try to organize another big Richmond rally, but find permits already taken by foes

Gun fanatics try to organize another big Richmond rally, but find permits already taken by foes

Conspiracy theories can be really handy things for right-wing provocateurs—especially when it comes to providing a handy cover for their own incompetence. Just ask the gun-rights-fanatics who organized last January’s big anti-gun-control rally in Richmond, Virginia, that drew thousands of militia “Patriots” and other right-wing extremists from around the nation to brandish their AR-15s and shout slogans about government “tyranny.”

When they went to obtain a permit for a second such rally this coming January, they found that all the slots had been filled and no permit was available. So of course, they instantly became victims of a massive conspiracy.

“Games are being played to silence us,” Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League complained in an email sent Tuesday to his members. “This was a thinly veiled effort to lock us out,” Van Cleave told the Washington Post.

He had called Virginia’s Department of General Services last week to obtain a permit for a second big rally on Richmond’s Capitol Square on January 18, but was dismayed to discover that the only time slots available that day were at 6 AM or at 6 PM. His dismay turned to fury when he discovered that the other time slots all had been booked by pro-gun-control groups.

The “Patriots” and other pro-gun elements had vowed after last year’s rally to keep up the pressure on Virginia state officials to back away from gun-control legislation that was indeed signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam in April. They also had promised to repeat the performance in January 2021.

The permit was unavailable to them this year because the pro-gun-control groups that ordinarily organize events in Richmond on January 18 had simply beaten them to the punch—and there was no scheming involved. “DGS does not base any permitting decisions on content or the applicant, ever,” spokeswoman Dena Potter told The Post. “We issue permits in the order in which the applications are received.”

“There’s nothing nefarious, nothing underhanded, nothing untoward that I know of that took place,” Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence told The Post. She noted that he group had held an event on Capitol Square on January 18 for the past two decades, but decided to cancel last year when the competing pro-gun rally became a national cause célèbre.

Haas said she had simply asked to grab a spot the following year at the time she had cancelled in January, and advised other pro-gun-control groups of her actions. She said they all had followed suit.

Van Cleave and his fellow “Patriots,” however, are not about to let such petty details as a legal permit stop him from organizing a January 18 rally. He told The Post that his group will shift seamlessly into the model of the “Trump train” caravans that became prominent in Donald Trump’s reelection campaign in 2020.

That’s fitting, since just like the last big Richmond rally, those events became massive crossover events in which armed far-right extremists commingled and linked arms with ostensibly mainstream Republicans, as well as law enforcement. Moreover, like last January, the “Trump trains” became literal vehicles for the politics of thuggery, featuring threats, intimidation, and actual violence, as we saw when one such “train” attacked a Biden-Harris campaign bus in Texas—which gained the roaring approval of the Republican establishment. That same model has come out to play in the post-election pro-Trump protests at state capitols around the nation.

Van Cleave says that’s who will be showing up in Richmond on a day when pro-gun-control groups are scheduled to be out in force. “All of them will be decked out with flags and magnet signs. We’ll probably have buses leading the caravan,” he told The Post—adding that participants will be able to keep warm and dry in their vehicles, and they can keep their guns with them too. “And it doesn’t mean you can’t get out and walk around Richmond while you’re there,” he added.


Conspiracy theories can be really handy things for right-wing provocateurs—especially when it comes to providing a handy cover for their own incompetence. Just ask the gun-rights-fanatics who organized last January’s big anti-gun-control rally in Richmond, Virginia, that drew thousands of militia “Patriots” and other right-wing extremists from around the nation to brandish their AR-15s and shout slogans about government “tyranny.”

When they went to obtain a permit for a second such rally this coming January, they found that all the slots had been filled and no permit was available. So of course, they instantly became victims of a massive conspiracy.

“Games are being played to silence us,” Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League complained in an email sent Tuesday to his members. “This was a thinly veiled effort to lock us out,” Van Cleave told the Washington Post.

He had called Virginia’s Department of General Services last week to obtain a permit for a second big rally on Richmond’s Capitol Square on January 18, but was dismayed to discover that the only time slots available that day were at 6 AM or at 6 PM. His dismay turned to fury when he discovered that the other time slots all had been booked by pro-gun-control groups.

The “Patriots” and other pro-gun elements had vowed after last year’s rally to keep up the pressure on Virginia state officials to back away from gun-control legislation that was indeed signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam in April. They also had promised to repeat the performance in January 2021.

The permit was unavailable to them this year because the pro-gun-control groups that ordinarily organize events in Richmond on January 18 had simply beaten them to the punch—and there was no scheming involved. “DGS does not base any permitting decisions on content or the applicant, ever,” spokeswoman Dena Potter told The Post. “We issue permits in the order in which the applications are received.”

“There’s nothing nefarious, nothing underhanded, nothing untoward that I know of that took place,” Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence told The Post. She noted that he group had held an event on Capitol Square on January 18 for the past two decades, but decided to cancel last year when the competing pro-gun rally became a national cause célèbre.

Haas said she had simply asked to grab a spot the following year at the time she had cancelled in January, and advised other pro-gun-control groups of her actions. She said they all had followed suit.

Van Cleave and his fellow “Patriots,” however, are not about to let such petty details as a legal permit stop him from organizing a January 18 rally. He told The Post that his group will shift seamlessly into the model of the “Trump train” caravans that became prominent in Donald Trump’s reelection campaign in 2020.

That’s fitting, since just like the last big Richmond rally, those events became massive crossover events in which armed far-right extremists commingled and linked arms with ostensibly mainstream Republicans, as well as law enforcement. Moreover, like last January, the “Trump trains” became literal vehicles for the politics of thuggery, featuring threats, intimidation, and actual violence, as we saw when one such “train” attacked a Biden-Harris campaign bus in Texas—which gained the roaring approval of the Republican establishment. That same model has come out to play in the post-election pro-Trump protests at state capitols around the nation.

Van Cleave says that’s who will be showing up in Richmond on a day when pro-gun-control groups are scheduled to be out in force. “All of them will be decked out with flags and magnet signs. We’ll probably have buses leading the caravan,” he told The Post—adding that participants will be able to keep warm and dry in their vehicles, and they can keep their guns with them too. “And it doesn’t mean you can’t get out and walk around Richmond while you’re there,” he added.Daily Kos

This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article here at DailyKos.

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