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, which was removed sometime after midnight Wednesday.
The group of about 100 UVa 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 UVa founder’s statue in black, mimicking the city’s decision to shroud the statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in the wake of the violent Aug. 12 rally that resulted in one death and dozens of injuries.
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 UVa.”
As an alumnus of UVA, I'm not sure what to say. At least they're not arguing for the taking down of the statue.
The group called on UVa 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 UVa’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.”