Virginia pro-gun event fizzles on MLK Day

An annual demonstration that - in a normal year - would draw thousands to the Virginia state capital drew only a few dozen gun-rights activists on Monday.

The annual "Lobby Day" - which gives voters a chance to petition state lawmakers on any issue - drew fewer than 50 pro-gun protesters, many from the far-right Proud Boys and the anti-government boogaloo movement who were openly carrying semi-automatic weapons.

"Boogaloo Boy" Mike Dunn said doing so violated a city ordinance.

JOURNALIST: "Why do it so openly?"

DUNN: "They made an unconstitutional ordinance. We're not going to comply. So why not?

JOURNALIST: "Has there been any effort on their part to enforce things?"

DUNN: "Does it look like it?"

The Lobby Day gathering in Richmond, which was the capital of the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War, always falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Until this year, Virginia also commemorated the birthdays of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson with a state holiday in January, but last year the state legislature passed a bill eliminating it.

Monday's event had put authorities on high alert following the siege of the U.S. Capitol, but Richmond remained mostly quiet and demonstrators were outnumbered by reporters.

About 110 miles north, a small fire under a bridge in Washington, D.C. triggered a temporary lockdown of the U.S. Capitol complex on Monday, underscoring the heightened security concerns after the Jan. 6 riot.

Participants in a rehearsal for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration were held in the Capitol rotunda and other indoor areas, according to a Reuters witness. The U.S. Secret Service later said there is no threat to the public.

The rehearsal, which had been originally scheduled for Sunday, was delayed by one day due to security concerns. But like the Lobby Day turnout, pro-Trump demonstrations planned across the country on Sunday largely fizzled after the FBI issued warnings and several states deployed the National Guard.

Biden, who will be sworn in on Wednesday, volunteered at a food bank in Philadelphia to mark MLK Day, the only U.S. federal holiday designated as a national day of service, according to Americorps, encouraging Americans to volunteer to help their communities.