Reports of possible disruptive or even violent actions by the militant left-wing group AntiFa at Gettysburg National Park this weekend have the Park Service acting with an “abundance of caution.”
The Park Service says it is keeping track of numerous possible indicators of trouble at the Battle of Gettysburg anniversary from July 1-3 – including reports that AntiFa may be planning to damage memorials and even desecrate gravestones at the historic battleground where the Union turned the tide of war against the South in 1863.
The Central Pennsylvania AntiFa group says on its facebook page that such reports are “most likely false” and “smell fishy.”
“Reports of possible AntiFa activities in Gettysburg have been a part of our preparation and planning.”
While there have been shouting matches between groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans and anti-Confederate flag protesters at past Gettysburg anniversaries, authorities are keeping a close watch on AntiFa after several protests have devolved into physical violence this year across the country.
When contacted by Fox News the United States Park Police said that they are treating the reports seriously and are working with several law enforcement agencies to ensure that if anyone chooses to exercise their free speech rights, they do so lawfully.
“Reports of possible AntiFa activities in Gettysburg have been a part of our preparation and planning,” said U.S. Park Police Sgt. Anna Rose. “Park staff have been coordinating with local law enforcement agencies including the Borough of Gettysburg, Cumberland Township, Pennsylvania State Police, the United States Park Police, and other National Park Service law enforcement specialists.”
The Gettysburg anniversary brings together Civil War history enthusiasts who bear both US and Confederate flags for re-enactments and marches to commemorate the battle where between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies lost their lives.
A handful of groups have applied for and been granted permits for peaceful assemblies. The Sons of Confederate Veterans and a group called Real 3% Risen have received special use permits for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday in a special section north of Meade’s Headquarters.
Also, Civil War reenactors from the Maryland Sons of Confederate Veterans received a permit for a “site specific” march starting at Saturday, at 10 a.m. from the North Carolina Memorial to the Veterans Memorial.
But it is the specter of AntiFa, which is purportedly threatening to burn the Confederate flag at the park, is what has prompted extra measures.
The Park Service has granted special use permits for “first amendment activities” to take place on July 1. They’ve authorized two of these events to take place north of General Meade’s headquarters along Taneytown Road between 11 am and 6pm. A third group will conduct a commemorative march along West Confederate Avenue from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“If individuals or groups decide to act unlawfully, plans have been put in place to efficiently address them while allowing other members of the public to enjoy the democratic process,” said the Park Police in a statement provided to Fox News.