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Safety Concerns for Dallas Rally Against White Supremacy, Nazism, Alt-Right

Rally set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall Plaza

Thousands of people are expected at a Saturday evening Dallas rally sponsored by groups opposed to white supremacy, neo-nazism, neo-confederates and the alt-right.

So far, about 4,000 people have indicated on the event's Facebook page that they plan to attend the rally, set for 7:30 p.m. at the Dallas City Hall Plaza and Confederate Monument in Pioneer Park near Dallas City Hall.

Mothers Against Police Brutality is among a number of organizations co-sponsoring the rally. The group's co-founder, John Fullinwider, said the whole idea is to build a movement to remove the statues that he calls icons of Confederacy in Dallas.

Fullinwider said they're not trying to change the past, rather they're trying to claim the future and don't want to be bound by the "myths of white supremacy and racism." He also said they want to build support for Councilman Philip Kingston's resolution to take down the monuments.

Mayor Mike Rawlings has called for appointing a task force to study the topic for 90 days and then report back to the city with recommendations.

Saturday's rally comes after violence last weekend at a Virginia rally staged by groups that support Confederate monuments. Groups on both sides of the issue clashed, and a woman was killed by a car driven into the crowd.

"The police's job is to protect both sides," said security expert Kevin Mellott, with Erase Enterprises in Dallas.

Mellott said Dallas police have extensive experience dealing with large crowds.

"The difference is controlling a large crowd that's coming to an event with the intent to be peaceful, versus controlling a large crowd where certain elements may come with the intent not to be peaceful," Mellott said.

Mellott said police have access to intelligence information from social media and other sources to learn what counter-protest groups may plan to attend the rally.

He expects Dallas officers to be wearing riot gear and to have extensive preparations in place around the area.

"You would want to make sure that they've got a route where the protesters or demonstrators come in to a rally point, and they go from there to their point of demonstration with police presence along that route," Mellott said.

Fullinwider said they have a plan to deal with counter-protesters, but he said the rally attendees are "non-violent warriors" and will stand up for what they believe in.

"The statues are often presented as history, and if you take them down you're somehow trying to erase history. But they're not really history, they're propaganda," Fullinwider said. "I mean, we don't study the history of World War II by putting up a statue of Adolph Hitler, and so the statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis are the same kind of thing. They celebrate an act of treason and the perpetuation of slavery in the United States."

Dallas police declined an interview request Thursday but issued a statement Wednesday saying that protecting everyone is their highest priority.

The statement said officers will be in the crowd and prepared with quick response teams. The Dallas Emergency Operations Center will be activated to communicate with other agencies if extra support is needed.

No permit is required for the rally in the public location, and no street closures have been announced.

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