Hundreds of far-right activists descended on the quiet college town last year for the Unite the Right rally, to protest the removal of a Confederate monument. The rally attracted national attention after one woman, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was killed when a car ploughed through a crowd of counter-protesters.
Two Virginia state troopers were also killed in a helicopter crash after monitoring the violence on the ground.
“Virginia continues to mourn the three Virginians who lost their lives in the course of the demonstrations a year ago,” Governor Ralph Northam said in a statement announcing the state of emergency on Wednesday. “We hope the anniversary of those events passes peacefully.”
Mr Northam said the state of emergency would ensure the state and city had all available resources ready to support emergency responders if necessary. The declaration allocates $2m in state funds for response, and authorises the Virginia National Guard to assist in security efforts.
Charlottesville’s Interim City Manager Mike Murphy said the city, surrounding county, and nearby university were working with law enforcement agencies around the state to plan for potential events.
Meanwhile, primary Unite the Right organiser Jason Kessler was planning an anniversary rally for outside the White House on 12 August – the same day as last year's event. The white supremacist blogger initially planned to hold the rally in Charlottesville once again, but was denied a permit by the city.
Mr Kessler and other Unite the Right participants have also signed on to a court agreement barring them from any militia-style, armed activity in the city in the future.
Documents released by the National Park Service, and obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, show speakers at the rally will include former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and neo-Nazi Marine veteran Patrick Little, among others. Approximately 400 people are expected to attend.
A coalition of 22 different activist groups like Black Lives Matter DC and Smash Racism DC have also planned a counter-protest over the weekend. The protest, titled "Shut it Down DC," will take place all weekend, with a special "Rally Against Hate" scheduled for 12 August.
“This is for Heather Heyer, ICE abolition, open borders, dismantling the prison industrial complex, and ending the settler colonial system,” the activists wrote on their website.
“Still here, and still strong against against hate. We'll show that fascists are not welcomed here and we won't allow DC to be their playground.”