Tensions Flare on UVA Campus as State Police Confront Student Demonstrators

by | Aug 12, 2018 | PHOTOGRAPHY

Behind metal detectors, barricades, and an overwhelming police presence, student demonstrators opened their peaceful assembly by directly addressing the law enforcement presence. The demonstrators, who authorities decided to confine to a limited area and number of participants, unfurled a banner that read, “Last year they came w/ torches. This year they come w/ badges.”

The student demonstrators outfoxed the police by abandoning the staging grounds and marching to another part of the campus, a large, open field where representatives from a local Black Lives Matter chapter and others criticized the University of Virginia over funds raised for victims of Unite the Right which they say have not been disbursed.

Speaker from Students Act Against White Supremacy

Inexplicably, police in riot gear rushed in on the assembly, lining up in a crowd dispersal formation. The assembly of students sitting and standing on the grass, signs laying on the lawn, was briefly declared unlawful and ordered to end. As riot police pressed in, students came forward, chanting “Why are you in riot gear? We don’t see no riot here.”

Bellamy talking down police

A coalition of clergy and faith leaders, working with the students, along with Charlottesville city councilman Wes Bellamy and others, de-escalated the police response. As riot police stood down, students marched over to Lambeth Field, where they continued the speeches while Virginia State Police filed in behind them, without the riot gear, forming a wall between the students and the temporary police barracks in the university dorms.

Clergy linking arms in front of riot police

The otherwise peaceful evening would end with a scuffle on the street, when an officer had to be pulled away by his colleagues from a woman who witnesses said he’d shoved to the ground.

Some of the best photos of the evening can be found below:

Scene on the lawn before police moved in

Sign on Lambeth Field

Clergy stand-off with police

Riot police

Riot police lined up

Demonstrator tries to address police

“UVA Profits From Our Pain”

Anti-incel sign at Lambeth Field

Students at Lambeth Field

Demonstrators marched with flags and signs

State Police used armored vehicles to transport officers


“We Keep Us Safe” was a common sentiment

All photos by Landon Shroder. John Donegan contributed to this report. 

David Streever

David Streever

David Streever was editor of the RVA Mag print quarterly from 2017 until 2018. He's written two cycling books for Falcon and covered the Tour de France and the 2015 UCI Championship in Richmond. He writes about politics, culture, cycling, and pretty much anything else.

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