Charlottesville Mayor, UVA President, Senator Kaine Respond to Torch-Lit Gathering
Press Release from the office of the University of Virginia President:
University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan strongly condemned the demonstration that occurred on Grounds on the evening of August 11. The intimidating and abhorrent behavior displayed by the alt-right protestors was wrong. Those who gather with the intent to strike fear and sow division do not reflect the University’s values and will not influence or diminish the University’s commitment to inclusion, diversity and mutual respect. Included in these values also are a respect for the First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceable assembly.
The University of Virginia is a public institution and as such must abide by state and federal law regarding the public’s right to access open spaces. While University policy speaks to the ability to reserve space inside University-owned facilities, permits or registration to access public and open outdoor spaces are not required. University policy also does not generally prohibit open flames in outdoor spaces.
With regard to the incident last night, University Police arrested one protestor and charged the individual with assault and disorderly conduct. Several injuries were reported, including one University police officer who was injured while making the arrest. Several other members of the University community sustained minor injuries during the confrontation.
Law enforcement did not deploy pepper spray or any other chemical agents. Reports indicate that the pepper spray was used by the protestors. Law enforcement on the scene declared an “unlawful assembly” once physical altercations among the protestors began to escalate.
The safety and well-being of every member of the University community and its visitors remains a top priority. The University continues to monitor developments in the City and is closely coordinating with state and local law enforcement.
The University continues to discourage members of the University community from attending the planned downtown rallies.
Statement from Mayor Mike Signer:
I have seen tonight the images of torches on the Grounds of the University of Virginia. When I think of torches, I want to think of the Statue of Liberty. When I think of candelight, I want to think of prayer vigils. Today, in 2017, we are instead seeing a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance march down the lawns of the architect of our Bill of Rights. Everyone has a right under the First Amendment to express their opinion peaceably, so here's mine: not only as the Mayor of Charlottesville, but as a UVA faculty member and alumnus, I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus.
Statement from Senator Kaine:
I'm deeply disturbed that our country has to wake up to headlines of torch-wielding white nationalists promoting bigotry and inciting fear on a college campus in Virginia. I'm praying for, and urging, peace today. Racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric sow seeds of hatred in our communities. That's not who we are, that's not what Virginians stand for, and we have no intention of moving backwards toward the division of the past. People peddling in hate from outside of Charlottesville will never define this vibrant community.