Police on alert as pro-gun activists to descend on Virginia's capital in wake of Capitol riots

Gun rights activists will descend on the state capital of Virginia on Monday, putting authorities on alert just two days before protests are expected across the US over the inauguration of Joe Biden.

Police on alert as pro-gun activists to descend on Virginia's capital in wake of Capitol riots

Gun rights activists will descend on the state capital of Virginia on Monday, putting authorities on alert just two days before protests are expected across the US over the inauguration of Joe Biden.

The so-called Lobby Day rally in Richmond is an annual event, but comes at a particularly tense moment in the US, following the deadly Capitol riots in Washington DC almost two weeks ago.

While it is usually a peaceful demonstration, law enforcement in Virginia's capital are on high alert - having already started preparing for potential unrest when Mr Biden is inaugurated on Wednesday.

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The Virginia State Capitol building is pictured through a fence as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump are expected to protest against the election of President-elect Joe Biden, in Richmond, Virginia, U.S. January 17, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Image: Police are on alert following the events in Washington DC two weeks ago

Pro-Trump demonstrations planned for Sunday across the US largely fizzled out, after warnings from the FBI and the deployment of the National Guard.

An activist who turned up outside the Virginia statehouse, who identified himself as Trevor, told reporters: "We're showing up to remind them that we're still here."

Lobby Day is a long-running event where Virginians petition their politicians to protect the Second Amendment - which gives them the right to bear arms - on what is the beginning of the state's General Assembly session.

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It is mostly run by the Virginia Citizens Defence League (VCDL), alongside an anti-government group known as the Boogaloo movement.

It always falls on Martin Luther King Jr Day - a national holiday in the US which honours the civil rights activist who was assassinated in 1986.

On Sunday, Boogaloo members walked around the outside of the statehouse, posing for the cameras with semi-automatic weapons while planning for Monday's event.

VCDL leader Philip Van Cleve said activists come from as far away as New York and Texas to lobby politicians to further relax gun laws.

He said: "We've been doing this for 25 years, we've never had a single problem. No arrests, nothing."

Last year's crowd was estimated to be around 22,000 people.