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No arrests made as thousands descend on Richmond for Lobby Day, pro-gun rally

2:11 p.m. update

As of about 1:40 p.m., Capitol Square had emptied out and no arrests were made, according to Virginia State Police.

Noon update

Southwest Virginians make their voices heard

Among the massive crowd that is gathering at Capitol Square, hundreds, if not thousands, are from southwest Virginia.

10 News reporter Jessica Jewell met up with some of them this morning. They say they woke up at 2 a.m. to board buses to be part of this rally at the Capitol today.

Many of them come from places that have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries.

Despite threats of violence today, demonstrators from southwest Virginia say that wasn’t going to stop them from exercising their First Amendment right to protect their second.

While there have been threats of violence, everything 10 News crews have seen has been peaceful so far.

A Franklin County man who spoke to 10 News this morning has been able to meet up with lawmakers this Lobby Day. He told 10 News he was frustrated because he tried to schedule appointments with Democratic lawmakers and none of them were allowing that.

Congressman Morgan Griffith also made the drive to Richmond with a group from Lee County.

Sending a message through open carry

There are crowds of people demonstrating outside the Capitol grounds on closed-off side streets nearby as thousands continue to make their voices heard in Richmond.

10 News reporter Tommy Lopez says it’s been passionate yet peaceful here so far today.

Thousands of people are here standing, chanting, holding signs — a unified statement against stricter gun laws.

Hundreds are from our region of Virginia — and at least hundreds more have traveled from farther away.

This event has caught attention from national media and people around the nation.

Some took a day’s drive to be here — among the crowds.

“It’s impressive and I’m happy to see it. It’s been a really good crowd, people who are peaceful, doing what they need to do to let their cause be known,” said Erik Lehtinen, New York resident.

Many people are carrying weapons, and they’re allowed to do that as long as they’re outside the Capitol grounds. They say carrying is a part of their statement, that they want to protect their rights.

Thousands are here with that message hoping to sway the General Assembly not to pass stricter gun laws.

Far-right figure drives tank through downtown

According to NBC 12, far-right conspiracy theorist and radio show host Alex Jones was seen driving a tank through downtown Richmond.

Security remains tight

Security has been tight all day in and around Capitol Square — which is part of the governor’s State of Emergency order.

People are still trickling in, although the lines to go through dozen or so metal detectors here don’t seem to be as long as they were this morning.

The line seemed to move smoothly, and everyone appeared to be abiding by the no weapons rule.

Inside Capitol Square, state troopers and Capitol Police are everywhere.

One man who spoke with 10 News says the security seems a little much, others, however, had no complaints.

“These guys have done a fine job. Security is tight. Technically, there’s no safer place in Virginia today than behind one of these troopers,” said J.B. Call, a gun-rights supporter. “There’s no guns in here and we’ve got troopers standing all the way around. If anything happens, I feel sorry for the person who tries to get out.”

9:30 a.m. update

Gates to Capitol Square opened at 8 a.m., and thousands of demonstrators have gathered as Lobby Day gets into full swing.

10 News reporter Tommy Lopez says the rally has spread all the way down Bank Street, which runs next to the Capitol.

10 News reporter Colter Anstaett heard chants of “we will not comply” and “USA” coming from the crowd on the street outside Capitol Square.

7 a.m. update

Law enforcement officers are already out in large numbers in Richmond around 7 a.m. as hundreds of people from our area prepare to flock to the capitol.

Crowds are also starting to form Monday morning as activists and demonstrators get ready for the day.

Thousands of Virginians are expected to rally against the governor and the Democratic-controlled legislature on Monday for Lobby Day, but it’s those from outside the commonwealth that has law enforcement worried.

Police fear extremists groups will come. Three members of one group planning to travel to Richmond were arrested in Maryland on Thursday.

There is some speculation that members of Antifa may attend Lobby Day with bad intentions.

Gun rights supporters say they want a peaceful demonstration as they seek to oppose stricter gun laws.

Republicans who oppose the gun laws are telling protesters from out of state they are not welcome.

“There’s no room for people out of Virginia coming in to cause trouble,” said Virginia Sen. Ryan McDougle. “It’s not acceptable and they should not come.”

House of Delegates Republican leader Todd Gilbert is even more direct in his statement, saying “any group that comes to Richmond to spread white supremacist garbage, or any other form of hate, violence, or civil unrest isn’t welcome here.”

Source: WSLS News 10

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