Virginia House Republican leader to hate groups: 'You are not welcome here'

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RICHMOND, VA – JANUARY 08: The Virginia State Capitol is pictured on January 8, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. The 2020 state legislative session began today under Democratic control. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

The Virginia House Republican leader said anyone spreading “white supremacist garbage” is not welcome in Richmond after a state of emergency was declared because of threats surrounding a gun rights rally planned for Monday.

“Any group that comes to Richmond to spread white supremacist garbage, or any other form of hate, violence, or civil unrest isn’t welcome here,” Todd Gilbert said Saturday in a statement.

Federal authorities arrested a number of suspected neo-Nazis around the country this week out of concern that they were planning violent acts at Monday’s gun rights rally in Richmond, a senior FBI official said Friday. Seven men accused of belonging to a white supremacist group called The Base were arrested this week in separate raids in Delaware, Georgia, Maryland and Wisconsin, according to authorities.

“House Republicans reject any attempt by any group to infuse any kind of twisted or extreme worldview into this fundamentally democratic exercise,” Gilbert’s statement continued. “So there’s no mistake, this is my message to any group that would subvert this event: you are not welcome here.”

“While we and our Democratic colleagues may have differences, we are all Virginians and we will stand united in opposition to any threats of violence or civil unrest from any quarter,” Gilbert said. Gilbert represents the 15th district in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency this week after law enforcement learned of the threats and that out-of-state militia groups and hate groups are expected to attend the rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Firearms and other weapons have been banned on state Capitol grounds.

The threats, which are considered credible by law enforcement, come from mainstream channels and alternative dark web ones used by violent groups and white nationalists from outside of Virginia, according to Northam. The governor added “the conversations are fueled by misinformation and conspiracy theories.”

Northam said the state of emergency will be in place from Friday evening to Tuesday evening. The firearm ban includes open and concealed firearms and other weapons like sticks, bats and chains, according to the emergency declaration order.

A Richmond Circuit Court Judge denied the application for a temporary injunction of Northam’s executive order banning guns at Monday’s rally, which was filed by Gun Owners of America Inc., the Virginia Citizens Defense League, and three private individuals.

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