CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — This weekend marks one year since the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
The city has been preparing for months to avoid last year’s violence, but residents are still on high alert.
There’s currently no credible threat to the city, but many people told 8News Friday morning that they will be avoiding the downtown area altogether.
Several businesses along the mall and in the city will be closing up shop Friday afternoon and throughout the weekend due to the “what if” factor.
Managers told 8News that their employees don’t feel safe. They also said it will be tough to get around due to the road closures.
On the other hand, a food truck owner says the instilled fear of white supremacy will not stop him from clocking in.
“People are scared. A lot of people are leaving the area. A lot of people are trying to find other things to do. We are going to just work because that’s what we are here for. That’s the reason we started a business,” Troy Robinson, with Order Up Mobile Food Cart, said.
Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency for the Commonwealth and the city of Charlottesville on Wednesday.
Extensive planning has taken place over the past couple of months to ensure safety.
To make sure that cars and pedestrian’s stay away from each other, there will only be two designated areas for people to enter and exit the downtown mall.
At this time, there’s no specific threat, but intelligence will be monitored all weekend. More than 700 state police troopers are expected to be in the area, and about 300 Virginia National Guard soldiers will be on standby.
Newsplex reports that the University of Virginia Health System and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital will both employ extra staff and be taking extra precautions in case of another mass casualty incident.
Multiple agencies and departments have come together over the last six months to prepare for the worst.
“That presence is here as a support to our citizens, as well as a deterrent to anyone who would want to come into the community and exercise their first amendment rights in a way that would violate someone else’s first amendment rights,” Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall M. Brackney said.
There’s a long list of items that are not allowed on the downtown mall, including knives, bats and masks. Handguns are allowed because of the second amendment.
Barricades will go up and road closures will take effect beginning on Friday.
On Saturday, several hundred people have made their way into the downtown security area since the perimeter was established at 8 a.m. Several items have been confiscated, however. Officials say a pair of brass knuckles, a razor, a multi-purpose knife and aerosol cans.
Stay with 8News for updates all weekend long.