Residents react to proposed changes for rallies at Lee monument

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Limiting crowd sizes and banning guns are just two of the ideas for how to deal with protests around the Robert E. Lee statue along Richmond’s Monument Avenue.

The proposals were put together by a task force appointed by the governor.

Janice Nuckolls lives just steps from the statue.

“I mean, yards,” she said. “I could throw a rock and hit it.”

She is supportive of the potential changes.

In August, Gov. Terry McAuliffe banned demonstrations at the site after the chaos in Charlottesville.

“The citizens’ safety has to come first,” said Nuckolls. “When you look at what happened in Charlottesville, I think people are very, very sensitive to not wanting anything like that to happen in our city.”

At a meeting Tuesday, the task force laid out some proposals for any future planned rallies near the statue.

They proposed limiting crowds to 500 — instead of the current limit of 5,000 — and not allowing guns.

Another suggestion was requiring a permit for events involving 10 or more people.

“My first reaction was, that’s a great idea,” said Nuckolls.

The Monument Avenue resident said the street is no stranger to crowds and that the people who live along it enjoy hosting people. There’s the annual Easter parade and 10K. The UCI Road World Championships even passed through.

“It’s just when people are coming, looking to do harm, looking for trouble, looking for a fight, it sort of completely changes how you feel about the numbers of people that are coming,” she said.

The task force was established by Executive Order Number 68. Members are assessing the events in Charlottesville on Aug. 12 and identifying ways to improve the Commonwealth’s preparedness and response capabilities should such events occur in the future.

The task force is also developing model permitting processes to govern public demonstrations for the state and local government agencies.

The following people are part of the task force:

The Honorable Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
The Honorable Carlos Hopkins, Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs
The Honorable Noah Sullivan, Counsel to Governor McAuliffe
Curtis Brown, Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
The Honorable Bryce Reeves, Senate of Virginia
The Honorable Scott Lingamfelter, Virginia House of Delegates
The Honorable La Bravia Jenkins, Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Fredericksburg
Colonel Steven Flaherty, Superintendent, Virginia State Police
General Timothy Williams, Adjutant General of Virginia
Dr. Jeff Stern, State Coordinator, Virginia Department of Emergency Management
Dr. Marissa Levine, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Health
Fran Ecker, Director, Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services
Victoria Pearson, Deputy Attorney General of Virginia
Tonya Chapman, Chief of Police, City of Portsmouth
Melvin Carter, Fire Chief, City of Richmond
James Redick, Director of Emergency Preparedness & Response, City of Norfolk
David Hines, Sheriff, Hanover County
Chief David McCoy, President, Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators
Noah Simon, City Manager, City of Lexington
Charlie Kilpatrick, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Transportation
Bill Leighty, Former Chief of Staff for Governor Kaine
Steve Cover, Deputy City Manager, City of Virginia Beach
Virginia Association of Counties Representative