*This story has just been updated.
According to a Facebook event page sponsored by CSA II: The New Confederate States of America, a rally is being planned on September 16 to “protect” the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Ave. A previous rally was planned by the Virginia Flaggers on the same date, but was later cancelled due to public pressure on the organizers.
The event, billed as a ‘heritage not hate’ rally contends, “CSA II: The New Confederate States of America…and fellow supporting individuals / organizations will be standing up to protect the General Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia from being taken down or destroyed.” The details section goes on to say, “We hope you will come out and support our efforts and stand tall for our Proud Confederate Monuments. This rally is a Heritage ~ Not Hate Rally and any Hate will NOT be stood for on our side whatsoever.”
This comes on the heels of an executive order signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe on August 18, which prohibits all forms of protest at the Lee monument in Richmond. McAuliffe claims the order is necessary until emergency measures can be implemented that can manage protests with the potential to end violently. The decision to ban protests at Lee monument in Richmond was in response to the violence of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on August 12, which left one person dead and up to 30 wounded in a terrorist attack by a white supremacist. According to the executive order, the ban will “remain in full force and effect until such emergency regulations are promulgated by the Department of General Services by November 18, 2017.”
The group hosting the rally, CSA II: The New Confederate States of America, looks to be based out of Dandridge, Tennessee and claims to be “The Official Provisional Governmental Organization of the New Confederacy, protecting our Proud Southern Heritage, The Confederate Flag, our rights and values, and our way of life.” While the organization’s webpage claims to be veteran ran and explicitly states, “We are not a hate organization nor will it be tolerated in any way!!!,” Confederate symbols have become a national flashpoint for white nationalist, supremacist, and alt-right groups looking to grow their message.
This rally, if happens, will come at a critical time for the city of Richmond. More so, because the city is still grappling with the direction of Mayor Stoney’s Monument Avenue Commission and recent comments signaling his willingness to consider a plan for removal of Confederate Statues.
In response to the planned rally by CSA II: The New Confederate States of America, Community of Richmond (CORVA) has scheduled a RVA No-Hate Counter Protest. According to the event page, CORVA has stated, “The CSA is planning on holding a demonstration on the 16th to “protect” the Lee monument.” The event listing closed with, “We can only expect the same violent extremists that were at Charlottesville to be in our city. We need to organize to protect our community, neighbors and minorities against this ideology of hate and oppression.”