A group of protesters at the University of Virginia placed a black tarp over a statue of Thomas Jefferson on Tuesday night, criticizing the university’s response to white nationalist demonstrations in Virginia.
Roughly 100 protesters gathered and covered the statue of the university’s founder with a black tarp, placing a sign on it that read “racist” and “rapist.”
Last month, the Black Student Alliance demanded the university remove Confederate plaques from the university’s rotunda and ban white supremacist groups from campus, the Daily Progress reported.
“One month ago, we stood on the front lines in downtown Charlottesville as all manner of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and neo-fascists swarmed the area,” a speaker at the protest said, the Daily Progress reported. “Two months ago, the Ku Klux Klan rallied in their safe space, fully robed and fully protected by multiple law enforcement agencies who brutalized and tear-gassed peaceful counter-protesters.”
In August, a white nationalist rally spiraled out of control in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulting in the death of a 32-year-old woman when a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors on Water Street, as well as the death of two Virginia State Troopers who were patrolling the assembly in a helicopter.
The “Unite the Right” rally was held in Emancipation Park, around a statue of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
In addition to Heather Heyer’s death, two Virginia State Police Troopers died in a helicopter crash while they were patrolling the rally from above.
Several weeks ago, the Charlottesville City Council voted to cover the statues of Lee and Stonewall Jackson in black.
John Whitbeck, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, made a statement on Wednesday, calling the protesters’ actions at the University of Virgina “vandalism.”
“The vandalism of the Thomas Jefferson statue at the University of Virginia is the next step in the extreme left’s movement to erase our history,” Whitbeck said, according to the Washington Post. “The defacing of our historical monuments is not free speech, it is a criminal offense, plain and simple.”
The protesters dispersed around midnight and left the tarp on the statue. However, the tarp was taken off early Wednesday.