Following reports of an as-yet unknown individual hanging a noose on a campus statue, protesters at the University of Virginia are demanding a “stronger response” from school officials.
According to The Cavalier Daily, what appeared to be “a male wearing a dark-colored jacket, jeans and dark-colored shoes” scaled the Homer statue on the campus Lawn and put a makeshift noose around its neck on September 7.
In a campus-wide message the following day, UVA President Jim Ryan wrote “There is simply no place in our community for this type of conduct, and we will undertake every measure to find out who did this and to hold them accountable.”
The diversity, equity, and inclusion chairs for the University Democrats put out a statement condemning the “dangerous events” that took place, and called on the campus community “to acknowledge the history of the university, and that the maltreatment of African Americans still exists on our grounds.”
The Young Democratic Socialists of America at U.Va. also released a statement claiming “there is a continued pattern and legacy of the University administration enabling white supremacy” on campus, and complained that “right-wing conservative student groups funded by moneyed interests with deep ties to the alt-right are gaining traction” at UVA.
The YDSA statement continued: “To our white peers who are not disturbed by this action or cannot bring themselves to care, ask yourselves: what have you done to prevent these acts of hate on campus?”
The YDSA followed up by organizing a protest this past Monday “to process the violent act ” and to call on UVA officials to do more. All in attendance wore pink bandanas “to ensure the peacefulness of the event,” The Cavalier Daily reported.
Religious Studies Professor Jalane Schmidt (pictured) talked about the noose “in the context of the University’s history of enslavement” and reminded listeners that UVA founder Thomas Jefferson built the school “to retain white talent in the South.”
A representative for the Black Student Alliance then read the Sept. 8 statement posted by the group in response to the hate crime.
“The noose is a symbol of hatred and brutality toward the Black community,” the post reads. “It is critical that Black students feel safe at the University of Virginia, but also feel empowered to claim this university as our university.”
[The YDSA’s Ella] Tynch invited protesters to chalk messages of solidarity on the pavement surrounding the base of the statue or to leave post-it notes on the statue itself.
Tim Wilson, treasurer of YDSA and third-year College student, left a Post-It behind the words “What are you doing to fight white supremacy?” Wilson explained his frustration with the University’s treatment of the hate crime and of the long history of racism on Grounds.
Though University President Ryan addressed the hate crime in a community-wide email Thursday, Wilson remains doubtful.
Neither Wilson nor Tynch believe more surveillance or increased policing is helpful in dealing with situations like the noose as such are “result of white supremacy in the first place.” Professor Schmidt, who teaches courses such as “Whiteness and Religion” and “Black Magic” said “community solidarity” is the best solution.
IMAGES: megaflopp/Shutterstock.com; UVA screencap