*This is a developing story
According to the Daily Progress in Charlottesville, a group of about 100 student protestors has covered the statue of Thomas Jefferson that adorns the University of Virginia (UVA) Rotunda in black – a move that parodied the city of Charlottesville’s decision to cover the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in black after the events of Unite the Right in August.
At around 8pm last night, students gathered in front of the statue, some carrying Black Lives Matter signs while others chanted “fascists USA” and “racist UVA”. Three students were reported to have climbed the statue placing signs on top reading, “TJ is a racist and rapist.”
The group of protestors called on UVA to comply with a list of demands made by the Black Student Alliance and other campus groups from the end of August, following the tragic events of Aug. 12 at Unite the Right. Among the list of demands, is the removal of Confederate symbols from campus, for the Lawn to be declared a residential space so concealed weapons and flames can be prohibited, and for UVA to re-contexualize the statue of Thomas Jefferson with a plaque.
One of the other demands asks UVA to “acknowledge the $1,000 gift to the University’s Centennial Fund received from the KKK in 1921; reinvest this amount, adjusted for inflation into existing UVA and Charlottesville multicultural organizations; and include this history at UVA into the education surrounding the bicentennial.” The KKK recently marched publicly in Charlottesville in July against the planned removal of the statues of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
This display of activism by students at UVA comes after a summer of white nationalist, supremacist, and alt-right rallies in Charlottesville. In May, alt-right poster child and UVA alumni Richard Spencer led a torch-lit vigil in front of the statue of Robert E. Lee, followed by a KKK rally in July. Both of these rallies culminated in the events of Aug. 11 and 12, at Unite the Right, one of the largest public hate gatherings in decades that left one person dead and upwards of 30 wounded in a terrorist attack by a white supremacist.