But the service said it has also issued a permit at the same park on the same day for counter-protesters, a move that appeared to raise the prospects of a violent clash right in front of the White House. During last year's rallies, law enforcement officers stood by while white supremacists clashed with counter-protesters, a response that allowed the violence to spiral out of control, an independent investigation found.
Both Charlottesville, Va., and D.C. are bracing for potential violence in the vein of last August's "Unite the Right" rally, at which one person was killed and 19 were injured after a white nationalist plowed his auto into counterprotesters assembled after their Charlottesville rally. Merchants already suffered a downturn after last year's event; sales tax revenue dropped 11 percent in September 2017 compared with the year before, according to city figures.
Law enforcement and D.C.'s Mayor Muriel Bowser stood shoulder-to-shoulder Thursday touting lessons learned from past year and patrolling other controversial demonstrations.
One counter protester, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was killed when a self-proclaimed white supremacist rammed a crowd of activists at high speed.
"We're bringing people from all over Sandtown, and all over Baltimore City, to go to the Unite the Right Rally", said Reverend Rodney Hudson of Ames Memorial United Methodist Church.
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On August 12, hundreds of white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville for a Unite the Right rally.
In downtown Charlottesville, Va., authorities are limiting auto and pedestrian traffic, dozens of police in riot gear are patrolling a park in the city's center and some residents have left town in case the weekend turns violent.
Newsham joined other city officials and religious leaders to both denounce the white supremacists' message and to assure nervous residents and visitors that a plan to keep everyone safe is in place.
Bowser said safety should not be a concerned, but understood why some are anxious.
Mark Lance, a philosophy professor at Georgetown University and an organizer of some of Sunday's planned the counter-demonstrations, said Kessler's call for "white civil rights" was meant to obscure the beliefs of those that rallied in Charlottesville.
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Unite the Right said on its website that supporters will march from a nearby subway station to Lafayette Park at 5pm (2100 GMT).
"I think there is still this mistaken belief that if you ignore these people to some degree, that there won't be as many problems", said Puryear. After last year's violence, the city asked the state legislature to ban firearms from major public events, but the bill failed to advance.
Condemning racism in any form is the kind of pro forma gesture that would have been unremarkable for every commander in chief in recent decades.
"The group is by and large a lot younger than me and very diverse in many ways, not just demographics but also political orientations and approach to protest", Lance said.
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