UVA students to demonstrate against white supremacists on anniversary of violent rally
Students are expected to demonstrate Saturday on the University of Virginia campus on the anniversary weekend of the “Unite the Right” rally that led to violence in Charlottesville, Va., last year.
The university announced Wednesday that it would limit access to some parts of campus as it prepares for potential white nationalist demonstrations and counterprotests.
The U.Va. campus, on Aug. 11, 2017, was the site of a march by white supremacists wielding tiki torches, one day ahead of a larger rally that led to a clash between white nationalist protesters and counterprotesters.
U.Va. officials plan to close parts of the campus to the public this weekend, including the North Plaza, as university and city officials prepare a massive law enforcement presence set to police any rallies that take place over the weekend, the student newspaper The Cavalier Daily reported.
White nationalist Jason Kessler is planning this year’s follow-up “Unite the Right” rally in Washington, D.C., and recently dropped a motion with a federal judge requesting a rally permit for the city of Charlottesville, where last year’s rally ended in the death of a counterprotester after a car was rammed into a crowd of pedestrians.
Despite Kessler’s withdrawal of his request for a permit, the city and university are both planning for possible demonstrations over the weekend, including one announced counterprotest from U.Va. students against white supremacy.
“We will not let the University continue to erase the events of [Aug. 11, 2017] and their complicity in aiding white supremacy,” the student group wrote on Facebook. “We, the students of the University, will be there this year, just as we were there last year.”
A massive law enforcement presence, which will include up to 300 National Guard troops and more than 700 Virginia State troopers, will be housed in part in U.Va.’s campus housing, according to The Cavalier Daily.
Students should prepare for an “increased police and security presence both on Grounds and in the community,” two university officials wrote in a letter, according to the newspaper.
Charlottesville police chief RaShall Brackney said Wednesday that her department would respond to and monitor any rallies that occurred over the weekend, regardless of Kessler’s withdrawal of his permit motion.
“We are closely monitoring the intelligence that is available to us about who is coming and who is going elsewhere,” Brackney said, according to The Cavalier Daily.
“I think we would be irresponsible if we didn’t have a plan like the one you are seeing. The focus of this single, unified and flexible plan is that it’s not dependent or contingent upon any group that we know is or is not coming, any permit being granted or not granted,” she said.
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