Bracing for Vick Crowds

By: Philip Stewart Email
By: Philip Stewart Email

July 25, 2007

Wednesday workers were already putting up signs letting drivers know that some parking spots are now tow-a-way zones, as authorities prepare for protesters and supporters of Michael Vick.

Vick heads will appear in front of a judge in Richmond Thursday and law enforcement was faced with the possibility of hundreds or even thousands of protesters.

"We don't need to have any uproar or craziness going on inside the federal courthouse," said John Hackman of the U.S. Marshalls Office. "Our primary response is to make sure that the integrity of the courts are upheld and that would include maintaining a perfect behavior for those spectators who are watching the proceedings."

Two streets around the U.S. Federal Courthouse will also be blocked off as Vick and his three co-defendants arrive for a bond hearing and arraignment on dog fighting charges.

Animal rights groups are expected to make up a large portion of protesters. One rescue group printed t-shirts for the hearing. The shirts read neuter Vick. They sold out within hours.

"He is such a symbol, you know the status of being a football player and all that stuff. I think people are having to confront it that weren't before and are realizing just how nasty it is," said Regina White, an animal rights activist who sold the Vick t-shirts.

The hearing will be in a courtroom that seats about 100 people. Every seat is expected to be taken.

An overflow room with a live feed of the hearing is being set up. It will accommodate another 200 people.

The whole event is expected to be a circus like atmosphere.

Wednesday night the street that separates the courthouse and the state capitol's south lawn was already starting to fill up. There were already 20 television trucks parked in spaces normally reserved for tour buses.

Officials say the 200-year-old capitol will remain open to tourists Thursday, but its main entrance will be closed.

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