01/30/2019 Release from the Charlottesville Police Department:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - In the early morning hours of January 17, 2019, a message titled “It’s OK to be White” was painted on Beta Bridge on Rugby Road.

While controversial and offensive to some, the words painted on the bridge are not actionable criminally, according to the Commonwealth Attorney’s office.

Words which would be actionable would be those threatening death or harm to a specific individual, or threats of harm to public places.

If anyone witnesses someone writing this type of threat, they should contact the Charlottesville Police Department by calling (434) 970-3280 and we will investigate them accordingly.

As a general rule, it is unlawful for a person to deface public property with graffiti. 

Historically, Beta Bridge has been a location at which graffiti has been tolerated by the city and graffiti at this location is so commonplace that the bridge has become a forum for free expression.

In this situation, besides not being actionable criminally, no incident reports were taken the day the message was painted on the bridge, and questions about the message were not received until after it was published in a news article.