UVA President Sullivan Responds to Tuesday Night Protest

UVA President Sullivan Responds to Tuesday Night Protest
  1. UVA President Sullivan Responds to Tuesday Night Protest
    On the night of Tuesday, September 12, protestors gathered at the University of Virginia and shrouded the statue of Thomas Jefferson to denounce white…
    Virginia (VA)

On the night of Tuesday, September 12, protesters gathered at the University of Virginia and shrouded the statue of Thomas Jefferson to denounce white supremacy. 

Protesters turned out with Black Lives Matter signs around 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The group of about 100 people included students, faculty and community members. The group used a tarp to cover the statue of Thomas Jefferson that sits in front of the UVA Rotunda.

Three people were on the statue and a sign on top of the covering read: "TJ is a racist and rapist."

On the ground, members in the group read a list of demands which included removing the Confederate plaques on the Rotunda and banning white supremacist hate groups from grounds, calling out UVA alumni Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer specifically. 

Spencer and Kessler were organizers involved in white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville this summer.

Crews removed the tarp from the statue overnight. 

On Wednesday, September 13, University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan released a statement about the event.

University of Virginia Press Release:

Members of the University Community:

Last night, several members of the University and Charlottesville communities held a protest at the Thomas Jefferson statue located north of the Rotunda, and several protestors covered the Jefferson statue in a black shroud.  We have since removed the cover. One person was arrested for public intoxication.

I strongly disagree with the protestors’ decision to cover the Jefferson statue. I also recognize the rights of those present at the protest to express their emotions and opinions regarding the recent horrific events that occurred on our Grounds and in Charlottesville.

Our community continues to heal, and we must remain respectful of one another if substantive progress can be made on addressing the many challenges and opportunities that we all face.

The University’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, made many contributions to the progress of the early American Republic: he served as the third President of the United States, championed religious freedom, and authored the Declaration of Independence.

In apparent contradiction to his persuasive arguments for liberty and human rights, however, he was also a slave owner. In its early days the University of Virginia was dependent upon the institution of slavery.

Enslaved people not only built its buildings, but also served in a wide variety of capacities for UVA’s first fifty years of existence. After gaining freedom, African Americans continued to work for the University, but they were not allowed to enroll as students until the mid-twentieth century.

The University has acknowledged its controversial history and we continue to learn from it through open dialogue and civil discourse.  

In 2013, I formed the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University to…

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