At least one conservative group is planning to protest President Barack Obama’s visit to the Charlottesville Pavilion this Friday, but others say they’re going to stick with the plans they had when the event was announced.
The group Americans for Prosperity was told that there wasn’t enough time left to apply for a permit to protest, said the group’s state director, Ben Marchi.
The city never received an official application, though it’s possible someone was given such information over the phone, Charlottesville spokesman Ric Barrick said. In any case, he said, the advance notice required for a protest is only five days, and city officials are willing to work with protesters who for some reason cannot give that much notice.
Americans for Prosperity has taken exception to remarks Obama has made criticizing the group as being in the sway of outside interests, Marchi said.
“We want to show him exactly who we are,” Marchi said.
They’re also hoping to sway voters away from Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Ivy. Perriello, in whose support Obama is appearing, is facing Republican Robert Hurt and independent conservative Jeff Clark in the Nov. 2 election.
Marchi called a decision to ban all signs, not just those attached to sticks, overzealous. In addition to signs, according to officials, anything that wouldn’t make it through airport security won’t be permitted inside the Pavilion.
The Jefferson Area Tea Party, the University of Virginia College Republicans and the state Republican Party all say they’re not planning organize contingents, though the state party said some of its members are likely to show up freelance.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if some of our folks do show up,” the state party’s director of communications, Garren Shipley, said.
The local tea party will host its own event, a forum on national issues, said Chairwoman Carole Thorpe. The event, set for 7 p.m. at the County Office Building, was scheduled well in advance of the announcement that Obama is coming to town, and her group decided not to shift its plans, she said.
“We’re not there to disrupt somebody else’s event,” she said.
The college Republicans plan to run a phone bank while the president is in town, according to that group’s Loren A. Monk.
And of course the president’s supporters are also expected to turn up at the event.
For example, Organizing for America sent an e-mail Wednesday afternoon inviting Obama supporters to the event.
And the University Democrats are excited for the event as well.
“We’ve been promoting the event heavily through our club and will be attending as a group, and we are also pushing for our friends and peers outside of UDems to attend as well. We are eagerly providing volunteers for the White House and the Perriello campaign at the rally,” wrote Krista O’Connell, a group member, in an e-mail.
Officials also began announcing Wednesday the disruptions the visit is expected to cause.
The first road closures in the city are expected at noon, when traffic and parking will be banned from Seventh and Eighth streets south of Market Street near the City Hall Annex and on Fourth Street between Market and Water streets.
From 6:30 p.m. onward, sections of Route 20, Water Street and Market Street, along with other side streets, will be closed. Detours will be posted.
There will also be a variety of parking restrictions in the area, and bus service will stop between 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
Officials expect to reopen the streets at 9 p.m.
The Downtown Doggie Howl-O-Ween event will be postponed to Saturday from 6 to 8:30 p.m.