RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed two executive orders in response to the violence in Charlottesville earlier this month.
“As we begin to recover and heal from the terrible events that claimed three lives and caused at least 35 injuries on August 12, we must take every step possible to prevent this type of tragedy from ever occurring again in Virginia,” he said in a release Thursday.
Executive Order 68 establishes the Task Force on Public Safety Preparedness and Response to Civil Unrest. It will be chaired by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran.
“We want to take whatever steps necessary to ensure that doesn’t happen again,” said Moran.
Members of the task force will evaluate what led to the chaos in Charlottesville and take a look at what’s in place for preparing for and responding to these types of events.
“The state took unprecedented action,” said Moran. “The governor ordered the mobilization of the National Guard for the first time in decades and decades and deployed hundreds of state police.”
Moran said the state’s role in local emergencies is one aspect the task force will consider. Right now, it plays a supporting role.
“We want to make sure that is the appropriate role and whether that supporting role is the one that we want continue to observe as we go forward,” he said.
Shortly after the executive order was announced, House Republican leaders issued a statement saying the governor’s decision to create the task force was “appropriate.”
“We strongly encourage the governor to include the Chairs of the General Assembly’s Public Safety committees and to fully disclose all reports, meetings, and findings of the Task Force to ensure confidence and determine whether a more independent investigation is necessary,” the release said. “And while we agree this review is necessary, we have no doubt that the brave men and women of local law enforcement, the Virginia State Police, and the Virginia National Guard who were on the ground in Charlottesville conducted themselves with the highest level of courage, dedication, and professionalism.”
On Thursday, McAuliffe announced he signed another executive order.
Executive Order 69 establishes the Commonwealth Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
This one aims to figure out how hatred and discrimination against racial minorities, religious groups and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals led to the violence.
The commission will identify state policy changes that would make Virginia more open and inclusive.
The members of both the commission and task force are expected to be announced soon.