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Suspicious package was a "personal item"

Suspicious package was a "personal item"

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Charlottesville federal courthouse

A suspicious package found Friday night outside of the Federal Building and U.S. District Court in downtown Charlottesville was a "personal item," according to the city. 

Surrounding streets were closed for about two hours as the Virginia State Police bomb squad was called to investigate.

The package was found just days before the Monday start of a federal civil trial against organizers of the Aug. 12, 2017 Unite the Right Rally.

It was discovered Friday about 6:45 p.m., and Charlottesville police and fire crews rushed to the area. By 8:30 p.m., an investigation determined there was no threat to public safety. 

"I can confirm it was a personal item," City Spokesman Brian Wheeler said in an email. "Nothing that was a safety threat. I don't have any additional information." 

The building, at the intersection of West Water Street and West Main Street near the Charlottesville Omni Hotel, will be the site of Monday’s Sines v. Kessler civil court case to be heard by a jury.

Wheeler said on Sunday that he did not have anything to share related to the city's public safety plans during the trial.

The lawsuit targets key organizers and participants of both the Aug. 12, 2017 Unite the Right rally and preceding torch march on the University of Virginia grounds. The suit alleges that 14 individuals and 10 organizations engaged in a racist conspiracy to terrorize and harm residents of Charlottesville, violating the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and various other statutes.

Jury selection in the trial is slated to start on Monday.

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