WASHINGTON - D.C. police are preparing as supporters of the Unite the Right Rally will descend upon Washington D.C. in August.
The organizer for this upcoming rally set to take place near the White House is Jason Kessler, who was also one of the organizers of last year's violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Kessler applied for a permit to hold his gathering at Lafayette Park on Aug. 12, which is the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville rally. Kessler wrote on the application that he expects about 400 people to attend. The application was approved by the National Park Service.
So far, there have already been protests in D.C. leading up to this event, including one held last Friday.
Black Lives Matter along with another group, Shut It Down D.C., are planning on staging a counter protest on the same day of the Unite the Right Rally.
On Monday, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham discussed the department's preparations ahead of the rally that is less than two weeks away. He said their full intent is to keep the people attending the Unite the Right Rally completely separate from any other group that comes to protest.
“This puts MPD in a very precarious position,” said Newsham. “I have to say people come to Washington D.C. expressing all types of First Amendment rights. Sometimes when they are expressing their views, they can be contrary to some of our personal views. But that is not our role as a police department. Our role is to make sure we have a First Amendment event that goes on without any type of violence or destruction of property. So we intend to have the entire police department engaged to make sure that we handle this.”
During Inauguration Day for President Donald Trump, more than 200 people were arrested and charged with felony rioting after the city suffered more than $100,000 in property damage. However, the majority of those charges were dropped by the government or ended with the acquittal of several defendants.
Last year's Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville was attended by hundreds of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and erupted in violence after clashes with counter protesters. A 32-year-old woman was killed after a driver plowed into a group of counter protesters.