Trump calls for peace on Charlottesville anniversary as residents on edge

Maryland, DC Prepare For Unite The Right Rally

President Donald Trump on Saturday used one of his morning Twitter missives to acknowledge that the weekend marks the first anniversary of Charlottesville, Virginia's deadly white nationalist rally and to condemn racism in America.

A collective of counter-protest groups will stage a rally earlier in the day before congregating at the park and have vowed to drown out the white nationalists' message.

They will likely be dwarfed by the number of counter-protestors, who plan to march to the Martin Luther King Jr.

The statue and the park in which it's located were the center of last year's Unite the Right rally.

Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old legal assistant, was struck and killed when a white supremacist slammed his vehicle into a crowd of counterprotesters.

Two days later, after a firestorm of criticism, the president said: "Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups".

"I think there is blame on both sides", Trump said during a press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in NY.

Videos from the march show police in neon riot gear flanking peaceful protesters on all sides as they march through the streets. Bro said they tell her that if she can stand up, they can, too.

Both groups have been given permission to demonstrate in separate sections of Lafayette Square, a shady park that looks onto the back of the U.S. president's residence. "We don't see no riot here", activists chanted on Saturday evening local time.

"Our goal is to prevent that from occurring. This year, I'm afraid of the police", Woolfork said.

More than 700 state police are expected to be in the area, and about 300 Virginia National Guard soldiers will be on standby.

Antifa has also been responsible for untold amounts of vandalism and property damage, and targets the alt-right. Events over the decades focused on civil rights, LGBT rights, abortion, ending the Vietnam War and other issues have drawn crowds well into the hundreds of thousands.

Speaking by telephone on Friday, Kessler said he's feeling a lot better about the safety precautions for the Washington rally.

The increased police presence is meant to serve as a "deterrent to anyone who would want to come into the community and exercise their First Amendment rights in a way that would violate someone else's First Amendment rights", Brackney said.

One year after Susan Bro's daughter was killed when a vehicle plowed into counterprotesters at a rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, Bro plans to mark the tragedy by going to the street where it happened. She said she has activated emergency operations aimed at protecting property and people.

"We know what our responsibility is to protect first amendment events, to protect Washingtonians and to protect our city, and we will do just that", DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Lance also expressed optimism that law enforcement will be fully prepared.

A protester confronts riot gear-clad police.

The rest of the day had been much quieter. Portland Police is conducting an internal investigation into its use of force on August 4, which included flash bangs, after a June 30 rally there turned into a riot, sending at least four to area hospitals by ambulance.

The president's approval rating remains high among Republican voters, leaving most members of his party in Congress loathe to publicly criticize him.

Rodland said he felt much safer than previous year, when he left town with his family and stayed with his parents after seeing people armed with long rifles walking around outside his home.

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