Latest update from the VCDL newsletter:
Here are several things you need to know if coming to the VCDL Lobby Day on January 20th.
PARKING: If you are coming by car, there will be a satellite parking area at the Diamond located at 3001 N Arthur Ashe Blvd, Richmond, VA 23230. The entrance to the parking lot is round the corner on Robin Hood Road. VCDL will be running shuttle buses from the Diamond to 9th and Broad Streets from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. Shuttle bus and parking are free, but if you want to make a donation to help cover the cost you can donate online by going to vcdl.org/donate. Street parking and local private garages will fill up quickly and we are trying to keep the traffic congestion around the area as low as possible.
HANDICAP DROP OFF: There will be an area on E. Marshall Street between 8th and 9th for handicap drop-off and pick-up. This will also be the location where the shuttle buses from the Diamond parking lot will load and unload. It is a 5 block walk to the point where the lines will form to enter the building and about 3-4 blocks to the entrance to Capitol Square. This is the closest that the Richmond Police Department (RPD) can get us. Also, please be advised that there will be no special entry line into the building for disabled people. The Capitol Police (CPD) and the Department of General Services (DGS) have indicated that one line and one entrance will be used for everyone.
BUS PARKING: If you are coming in a bus that we don’t know about please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can give you directions on the roads the buses must take to get to the parking area. Buses will be parked and will remain in that location until they are re-boarded for the trip home. It will be a short walk down the hill to the Capitol Square, about 4 to 6 blocks. RPD officers will guide you across Broad Street and will stop traffic as necessary for pedestrian crossing.
We would like to know the number of buses if possible so we can gauge how much parking will be needed. Passenger vehicles, including passenger vans, will NOT be permitted to park in the bus parking area.
STREET CLOSINGS: Broad Street will be restricted to one lane in each direction from 14th Street to 7th Street and will be closed at from time to time for pedestrian traffic. 9th Street will be closed to vehicle traffic from Cary Street to Broad Street. Main Street will be closed from 14th Street to 9th Street. Franklin and Grace Streets between 8th and 9th. Bank Street will be closed as well. These street closures will be in effect from 7:00 am until approximately 4:00 pm.
LOBBY TEAMS: Teams will begin forming at 8:00 am and start entering the GA Building right away. ARRIVE EARLY IF YOU INTEND TO LOBBY! We will meet at or near 10th and Bank Streets, form groups and move down 10th Street to Main to enter the building. Team Leaders will likely have orange VCDL clipboards and will be wearing high visibility vests. Seek them out as soon as you arrive and try to get on a team. Most team leaders will have a list of the Delegates and Senators with whom they will be meeting. However, if you can’t find a team with YOUR Delegate or Senator, we encourage you to join a team anyway, as things are likely to be crowded. Some Team Leaders are posting their Senator and Delegate assignments on Facebook. You can hook up with them in the VCDL Group.
EXPECT LONG LINES: There will be a large turnout. Not everyone will fit in the building at once. When the capacity is reached, entry into the building will be halted until people leave. Please visit your assigned offices and perhaps your own Senator’s and Delegate’s offices and then exit the building so others can enter. Patience is essential. If you have trouble standing for extended periods consider bringing a folding chair. WE HAVE BEEN TOLD BY CPD AND DGS THAT THERE WILL BE NO SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS FOR HANDICAP ENTRY INTO THE BUILDING.
DRESS FOR THE WEATHER: It is January. It can be cold. Most of the day will be spent outside. Please check the weather and dress appropriately. Business casual or better attire is suggested. When you are communicating with people you do so with your appearance as well as your words. Wear comfortable shoes. There is a hill to climb from Main to Broad and the Capitol Square area is hilly as well. The elevators in the building will be packed so you may end up using stairs.
FOOD: There have been some food truck vendors who have indicated that they will be nearby. There are restaurants in the vicinity as well. However, with this many people in the area there will be long lines. It is advisable to bring snacks or sandwiches. We will post an alert soon if there are any prohibited items. We are waiting for advice from RPD and CPD.
CARRY: As of this moment, carry is prohibited inside the General Assembly (GA) Building and the Capitol. For this reason we suggest that if you intend to go inside to lobby you should leave your firearm at home, in your hotel room, or out-of-sight in your locked vehicle. DO NOT LEAVE AN UNSECURED GUN IN AN UNLOCKED CAR! There have been multiple firearms stolen out of vehicles lately. DO NOT HANDLE A LOADED FIREARM. VCDL’s firearm safety policy at all VCDL-sponsored meetings, events, or gatherings has always been that loaded firearms shall NOT be handled; they will remain holstered or otherwise secured at all times. Don’t ask someone to hold your gun while you go in the building. We suggest that if you are lobbying and come unarmed that you travel in groups with a DD…Designated Defender. This person volunteers to stay outside while the others go in and make our voices heard. As an alternative, you can use a fanny pack type holster which can be taken off and handed to your companion for safe keeping while you go into the building. AGAIN, DO NOT TAKE THE FIREARM OUT OF ITS HOLSTER.
Folding knives with a metal blades less than 3 inches are allowed. However, some of the Capitol police officers were not aware of such knives being permitted on Monday, January 13. If the Capitol Police won’t let you bring in such a knife, request a sergeant or a lieutenant to be summoned. Twice I carried a 2.9-inch knife and placed it in the provided screening basket as I went through security on January 19th. No problem.
Be patient with the Capitol Police on the screenings. It was not their idea, but Democrat leadership’s idea. The police are just doing their job and VCDL has always had an excellent working relationship with them.
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: There have been many rumors, videos, and articles flying around the internet. We cannot stress enough that this is a peaceful day to address our Legislature. Yes, we hold a rally, but the point of the day is communication with our Representatives. To our knowledge there are no credible threats of violence. That being said, please practice appropriate situational awareness. IF YOU SEE A BAD ACTOR flag down a police officer and point it out. If someone tries to provoke you, smile and walk away. There is probably someone secretly recording the interaction, with the intent of capturing some kind of inappropriate reaction on your part. Don’t take the bait. It’s not worth the bad press. The eyes of the nation and the world are on Virginia and VCDL right now and we must show them that gun owners are not the problem. Lead by example. We have been and continue to be in close contact with several law enforcement agencies and will keep them informed of all potential threats that we become aware of. Law enforcement will be in abundance at the event, both uniformed and plain clothes.
SCHEDULE: We begin lobbying at 8:00 am and continue until 10:30 am. From 11:00 am until noon we will have a rally at the Capital steps. It will be crowded, so try to get there early if you want to be able to see (and hear) the speakers. Once the rally is over you can continue lobbying, grab some lunch, or head back to your bus/car. OUR BUSES WILL DEPART AT 2:00 pm so allow yourself ample time to return to your bus.
SPECIAL ISSUE OF THE DEFENDER: Normally our newsletter, The Defender, is mailed to members and not available to the public until the next copy is published. However, we have decided to make this one available to everyone as it contains important information about Lobby Day. Please review map to familiarize yourself with the layout. The link is here.
Thank you all for your support. For those coming from other states to stand with Virginia, we appreciate you making the long trip. This will be a notable day in history. Let’s all work together to keep it positive and to achieve our goal of protecting our right to keep and bear arms