Pro-gun lobbyist: If the Proud Boys show up on Lobby Day, there’s nothing we can do about it

Richmond

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The FBI on Monday issued a serious warning that all 50 state capitals over the next few weeks are at risk for attacks that are similar to the insurrection that took place at the Capitol Building last week and the attacks could start as early as this weekend.

Before the pandemic and before the “stop the steal” misinformation campaign and movement, 22,000 people, many of them armed, showed up for Lobby Day last year in Richmond. It ended peacefully, then lawmakers got to work passing several gun control measures.

Organizer Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League says what he calls ordinary Americans will be back for Lobby Day 2021.

Lobby Day 2020
(Photo courtesy: VCDL)

“Number one, we don’t want any gun control. Our number one effort will be to knock all gun control back. We don’t need any gun control in Virginia,” said Van Cleave.

VCDL failed to get a permit for a massive rally on the grounds, so this year the rally will be on a roll.

“It’s called ‘rolling for the 2a’ — that being the Second Amendment — and we are having caravans of cars coming in from the north, the south, the east and west, and then 9 sub-caravans that will blend into one of the four major caravans,” Van Cleave said.

“The caravans will be led by big buses decked out with gun rights statements and things like that, and so those buses will be arriving in Richmond from 12 noon on the 18th, which is a week from Monday and up to 3 o’clock. So, it’s about noon to four. The four different directions arrive at different times the north at noon, the east around 1, the south around two and west around three,” he said.

But security experts say extremist groups will blend in for a potential repeat of the Capitol Hill insurrection that left five people dead.

When asked about the prospect of the Proud Boys showing up for the event, Van Cleave said all groups are welcome as long as they obey the law.

“We have no control over [them attending] — there’s nothing I can do. It’s still America. Everybody’s free to walk the streets,” said Van Cleave.

Members of the Proud Boys and other right-wing demonstrators march across the Hawthorne Bridge during an “End Domestic Terrorism” rally in Portland, Ore., on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. The group includes organizer Joe Biggs, in green hat, and Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio, holding megaphone. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

On Tuesday, Virginia State Police opened new Facebook and Twitter pages to keep citizens posted on security plans for Lobby Day 2021 and the 2021 session of the Virginia General Assembly.

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