Protest at UVA Rotunda with students demanding justice and equality

Group covers UVA Jefferson statue with black tarp, lists demands
Group covers Thomas Jefferson statue in front of UVA rotunda
Author

14 September, 2017

"She's never present when she needs to be present", student Kevin Westfield told the Cavalier Daily, singling out the university's president, Teresa Sullivan.

"At one point, three demonstrators scaled the statue and covered it with a black cloth, and others hung a banner on the base with the words, 'Black Lives Matter-F**k White Supremacy".

A protest that ended with a statue of Thomas Jefferson shrouded in black at the University of Virginia (UVA) on Tuesday revived tensions over the fate of historic landmarks in the wake of a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned violent exactly one month ago. She says one person was arrested for public intoxication.

"This week it's Robert E. Lee", President Donald Trump said last month amid debate over whether or not to remove Confederate statues. "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".

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.

Almost 89 percent of respondents thought the "Unite the Right" rally had "gone too far", while "over half" believed UVA President Teresa Sullivan should have more explicitly condemned the participants.

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".

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.

WVIR reports a sign on top of the covering said, "TJ is a racist and rapist". "The visibility of physical violence from white supremacists should not take our attention away from condemning and disrupting more "respectable" racists that continue to control the structures that perpetuate institutional racism". They also criticized the administration as out of touch.

Despite student opposition to altering the Jefferson statue, it became the focal point of a September 12 protest during which a crowd of approximately 100 students, faculty, and others marched around the monument while chanting slogans such as "No Trump, No KKK, no fascist U.S.!"

University president Teresa Sullivan in a statement said she "disagreed" with the covering of Jefferson's statue and defended the former US president's contributions to American freedoms.

Crews removed the tarp from the statue overnight.


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