A group of about 100 University of Virginia students, faculty, and community members, some displaying “Black Lives Matter” banners, gathered Tuesday night at a statue of the school's founder, Thomas Jefferson, to call him a “racist” and a “rapist,” among other terms.
A handful of protesters climbed the statue and wrapped a tarp around it.
“With every new horror that arises each month, each day, there has been an unparalleled resistance of people who say no to white supremacy, no to fascism, no to all forms of oppression,” one person said, per The Daily Progress.
— Dean Seal (@JDeanSeal) September 13, 2017
“We can and must condemn the violence of one month ago and simultaneously recognize Jefferson as a rapist, racist, and slave owner,” the primary speaker said. “The visibility of physical violence from white supremacists should not take our attention away from condemning and disrupting more ‘respectable’ racists that continue to control the structures that perpetuate institutional racism.”
The protest has cleared, but the shroud on the Thomas Jefferson statue at the Rotunda remains. pic.twitter.com/BqYtCEtH5q
— Alexis Gravely (@_AlexisWasHere) September 13, 2017
— NBC29 (@NBC29) September 13, 2017
In August, white nationalists marched around the Charlottesville campus and rallied around the statue of Jefferson. Shortly after, the statue was vandalized, marking yet another instance of monument-related incidents that accelerated after white supremacists and other groups protested the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
— Dean Seal (@JDeanSeal) August 24, 2017
Virginia Republicans responded to Tuesday's protest with condemnation.
Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck said the vandalism that occurred “is the next step in the extreme left's movement to erase our history. The defacing of our historical monuments is not free speech, it is a criminal offense, plain and simple. ... We cannot tolerate lawlessness and extreme political correctness masking as free speech any longer.”
Corey Stewart, candidate for governor earlier this year, wrote in a Facebook post, “This was never just about [Robert E.] Lee. They're going after the Founders, then the founding documents”:
After the events in Charlottesville, President Donald Trump warned there could be a slippery slope leading to the removal of statues of former presidents.