MSN.COM November 25, 2020 – “Games are being played to silence us,” Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League told his members in an email Tuesday.
When he called the state Department of General Services to arrange a Jan.?18 permit for a rally on Capitol Square, Van Cleave said he was told the only time slots available were 6?a.m. and 6?p.m. Everything else had been booked by groups advocating for gun control.
“This was a thinly veiled effort to lock us out,” Van Cleave said in an interview. His organization sponsored the gathering that drew thousands of armed gun rights advocates to Richmond on Jan.?20 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a traditional day of citizen lobbying at the General Assembly.
State officials strongly denied the accusation. “DGS does not base any permitting decisions on content or the applicant, ever,” spokeswoman Dena Potter said. “We issue permits in the order in which the applications are received.”
The debate might be academic anyway because state restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus currently limit public gatherings to 25 people.
“We have no way of knowing what guidance will be in place in mid-January,” Potter said.
Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, one of the groups that sought a permit for a demonstration that day, said there was no coordinated effort to block out van Cleave.
“There’s nothing nefarious, nothing underhanded, nothing untoward that I know of that took place,” Haas said. Her group had been scheduled to hold an event on Capitol Square last January — as they have every year for more than two decades — but canceled once the pro-gun rally drew national attention.
[In Va., gun-control fight gives rise to movement for county-approved militias]
In calling state officials to cancel, Haas said, she simply asked to grab a spot next year instead. Then she told other groups what she had done, and they followed suit. [full article]