Charlottesville protesters shroud Jefferson statue at UVA's Rotunda, decry school's response to rallies

Charlottesville protesters shroud Jefferson statue at UVA's Rotunda, decry school's response to rallies
  1. Charlottesville protesters shroud Jefferson statue at UVA's Rotunda, decry school's response to rallies
    CHARLOTTESVILLE — One month after white nationalists stormed the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, bearing tiki torches and chanting, “You will not replace us,” a smaller but equally vocal crowd of protesters took to the Rotunda on Tuesday night…
    California (CA)

CHARLOTTESVILLE — One month after white nationalists stormed the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, bearing tiki torches and chanting, “You will not replace us,” a smaller but equally vocal crowd of protesters took to the Rotunda on Tuesday night, covering a statue of Thomas Jefferson in a black shroud.

The group of about 100 U.Va. students, faculty and community members gathered despite the rain to deride the university’s response to the summer’s wave of white nationalist demonstrations.

They covered the U.Va. founder’s statue in black, mimicking the city’s decision to shroud the statues of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in the wake of the violent Aug. 12 rally that resulted in one death and dozens of injuries.

“One month ago, we stood on the front lines in downtown Charlottesville as all manner of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and neo-fascists swarmed the area,” said a speaker addressing the crowd. “Two months ago, the Ku Klux Klan rallied in their safe space, fully robed and fully protected by multiple law enforcement agencies who brutalized and tear-gassed peaceful counterprotesters.”

With some sporting “Black Lives Matter” signs and many others chanting, the crowd cheered as three protesters climbed the Jefferson statue, adorning it with signs that dubbed the former president a “racist” and “rapist.”

While chanting mantras that have become routine in anti-racist protests, the common chant “No Trump, No KKK no fascist USA” was tweaked, swapping “fascist USA” with “racist U.Va.”

“With every new horror that arises each month, each day, there has been an unparalleled resistance of people who say no to white supremacy, no to fascism, no to all forms of oppression,” said the speaker. “And we recognize and honor the fact that this resistance was not born 10 months ago, but has actually lived for many years: communities of color in Charlottesville fighting for affordable housing, for a living wage, for an end to police brutality and state-sanctioned violence, for education for all.”

The group called on U.Va. to adhere to the Black Student Alliance’s list of demands, formed last month in response to influx of white nationalist non-locals who have used Charlottesville as a rallying point. Published around the time of the Aug. 20 “March to Reclaim Our Grounds,” the list included the demand to “remove the Confederate plaques on the Rotunda” and ban white supremacist hate groups from campus.

The list calls for a balance of U.Va.’s “historical landscape,” and dubs the Jefferson statue “an emblem of white supremacy” that should be “re-contextualized with a plaque to include that history.”

It further demands that the university increase the enrollment of African American undergraduate students, increase the proportion of African American faculty and require all students to undergo some form of education on “white supremacy, colonization and slavery as they directly relate to Thomas Jefferson, the university and the city of Charlottesville.”

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