Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Monday contrasted the annual gun rights rally in Richmond, Va. with the riots after the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray and protests following the killing of Eric Garner by New York police.
“When we go out and march for the dignity…of the lives of people like Freddie Gray and Eric Garner, the whole place is surrounded by police in riot gear without a gun in sight [among protesters],” Ocasio-Cortez said at a Monday event. “And here are all of these people [in Richmond], flying Confederate flags with semiautomatic weapons, and there are almost no police officers at that protest.”
Following the death of Freddie Gray in the back of a police van in Baltimore in 2015, the city saw riots so extensive that Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency, while national-guard units deployed to quell the violence. While the officers who arrested Gray were initially charged with murder, all charges were eventually dropped by the prosecution.
During the Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Va. officers arrested one person for covering her face in public, which is banned under Virginia law. The individual was later released, and the rally continued without violence.
On Thursday the New York Times reported that three suspected white nationalists had been arrested, with investigators alleging the three would try to ignite violence at the rally. Governor Ralph Northam, who has voiced support for more restrictive gun laws, declared a state of emergency in response to the threat.