On Tuesday night in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson, roughly 100 students, faculty and local residents assaulted the statue of Jefferson on the campus rotunda, covering it with a black shroud, hanging a banner on it that read “Black Lives Matter” and “F**k White Supremacy,” and holding a sign reading “Thomas Jefferson is a racist and a rapist.”
Meanwhile, the crowd chanted, “No Trump, No KKK, no racist UVa” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
The rally was ostensibly triggered by the University’s refusal to implement demands made in August made by the Black Student Alliance. Some of those demands included: removing the Confederate plaques on the Rotunda; barring white supremacist groups, Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer from the campus; requiring all students to be educated on white supremacy, colonization and slavery as they directly related to Thomas Jefferson, the University, and the city of Charlottesville; adding a plaque to the statue of Jefferson linking him to “white supremacy”; increasing the percentage of blacks at the university from its current 6.4% to match the 12% of blacks in the state demographic, and increasing the percentage of blacks on the faculty staff.
In August, a riot ensued in Charlottesville after white nationalists protested the plans by the city council to remove the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and counter-protesters showed up.
On Tuesday night a female speaker addressing the crowd stated:
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. 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 counter-protesters. … 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. And we recognize and honor the fact that this resistance was not born ten 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. We can and must condemn the violence of one month ago and simultaneously recognize Jefferson as a rapist, racist, and slave owner.
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. … The same moderates who condemn the hate that came to Charlottesville one month ago fetishize the legacy of Jefferson, and imagine him as our collective moral compass. We cannot create a hierarchy within white supremacy.