Every year, the citizens of the US state of Virginia take to the steps of the state Capitol, the first Monday after the General Assembly comes together for its annual legislative session, to address their concerns to legislators, on what is known as Lobby Day.
However, the 2021 Lobby Day is different. Given the rising COVID-19 cases in the US and the violence that engulfed the US Capitol building on 6 January, Virginia lawmakers are meeting remotely, rather than in the Richmond Capitol.
As it has been in the past few years, the Virginia Civil Defense League, a gun-rights group, among others, organised the Lobby Day rally in the City of Richmond, bringing caravans from 12 localities. The rally was also expected to bring caravans from places as far as New York and Texas.
The rally was organised in protest of plans put forth by the state’s Democratic leadership to pass gun-control legislation.
Denied a rally permit by authorities, trucks and cars with waving American flags streamed through downtown Richmond. Some banners read ‘Don't Treat On Me’, and ‘Guns Save Lives’. It has been reported that white power extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Boogaloo Bois were in attendance, waving rifles.
A heavy police presence seemed to dominate the event. It kept the protestors outside a cordon around the state Capitol.
Virginia is an 'open carry' state. However, signs were posted by Richmond police regarding a 2020 city ordinance that forbids the carrying of guns in areas where permitted events are held, ‘or an event that would otherwise require a permit’.
The rally lasted just over two hours.