People at a Neo-Nazi rally and counter-protest in Charlottesville in 2017 shutterstock_1242170713
People at a Neo-Nazi rally and counter-protest in Charlottesville in 2017

The FBI apprehended three men in Maryland who discussed attending the rally in Richmond on Monday.

This post was originally published on The Dogwood, Courier Newsroom’s local news site for Virginia.

The federal government arrested three suspected Neo-Nazi hate group members who had guns and were discussing attending Monday’s protest against gun safety legislation in Richmond.

The New York Times reports that the F.B.I. arrested the men Thursday in Maryland, where they were charged with “various federal crimes.” Among those arrested was Patrik Mathews, a main recruiter for a white supremacist group known as “The Base.” Mathews allegedly entered the United States illegally from Canada, where he was previously dismissed from the Canadian Army and was considered an expert in explosives. 

Concern over Monday’s rally in Richmond against gun safety laws has been growing for weeks. Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency in the state yesterday and through the weekend, allowing him to ban guns from the Capitol grounds. 

Organizers of the anti-gun rally have said they “hope” the rally does not devolve into the violence that defined a white supremacist riot in Charlottesville in 2017, which left one person dead and several injured. 

The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks extremist groups, has warned that anti-government militias and white supremacist groups have “glommed on to” local efforts in Virginia to oppose any new gun safety legislation.