Va. lawmakers want independent review of Charlottesville rally presented to public safety committees

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia lawmakers are reacting to the report issued Friday after an independent review of the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that occurred in August.

Former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy led the investigation, which found a lack of preparation and coordination between state and city police.

House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) said the discoveries were inconsistent with much of what was said by city leaders and the administration following the violence.

“It’s very troubling to learn that law enforcement was effectively told to stand down, even if those weren’t the words that were used,” Gilbert said in a statement Friday. “Based on this report, it looks like the brave law enforcement officers on the streets were ill-served by administrators in the days leading up to the event, and then told not to do their jobs as it happened.”

General Assembly leaders will ask Heaphy to present the findings of his review to the public safety committees of the House of Delegates during the upcoming General Assembly session.

A separate review has also been underway in Richmond.

After the rally, Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued Executive Order 68. That created the Task Force on Public Safety Preparedness and Response to Civil Unrest.

The group of 25 state leaders was chaired by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran.

Members of the task force were asked to 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.

In August, Moran said the state took “unprecedented action” in responding to the summer rally.

The findings of the task force have yet to be released to the public, though a report was due to the governor by Friday. The governor’s office said the recommendations will likely be released early next week.

Gilbert said hearing from Heaphy is still a necessary step.

“The House and Senate have participated in the Governor’s task force in good faith, but we owe it to our constituents to hear multiple perspectives on that fateful day,” he said.

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