Amid Arrests on Other Campuses, Tensions Mount at UVA

by James A. Bacon

As a wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations and encampments rolled across Virginia college campuses yesterday, university presidents held firm in enforcing rules governing the orderly conduct of protests. The day after Virginia Tech shut down an unpermitted “liberation zone” Sunday, arresting 82, Virginia Commonwealth University closed an encampment last night, arresting 13. At the University of Virginia, pro-Palestinian groups were ordered to take down their tents, erected before the main event today called for by protest organizers, but were allowed to continue their vigil.

Media reports indicated, however, that protests spread yesterday to Mary Washington University, where they had died down from a previous eruption, and to Christopher Newport University.

The Virginia protests were overshadowed in national media Tuesday night by resolution of the standoff at Columbia University, where New York police broke up a liberation zone and evicted students who had barricaded themselves inside a building.

If university presidents in the Old Dominion needed any stiffening of resolve, they got it from Governor Glenn Youngkin who, appearing on CNN Sunday, said, “We’re not going to have encampments and tents put up and yes, we will protect the ability to peacefully express yourself, but we’re not going to have the kind of hate speech and intimidation we’re seeing across the country in Virginia.”

After the knock-down of the encampment at VCU Tuesday, the main action in Virginia shifted to UVA.

At VCU the protest had grown to “several hundred” students and dozens of tents, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. University officials warned protesters that they were in violation of VCU’s Reservation and Use of Space policy for holding a large event without advance notice or permission. Students used wood pallets to erect a barricade and some hurled water bottles at police. The 13 protesters who were arrested included six students and seven non-students. Their ages ranged from 19 to 39.

Among the 82 people arrested at Virginia Tech Sunday, 29 were non-students.

Encampment at UVA Tuesday afternoon.

The UVA Dissenters and UVA Apartheid Divest had planned a day-long demonstration to begin today, May Day, but protesters began gathering in the grassy area between the Rotunda and the chapel yesterday. There was minimal activity, as protesters mostly gathered in small groups talking to one another, reported Charlottesville’s Daily Progress. However, a USA TODAY reporter tweeted that she heard chants of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “Free, free Palestine.”

University officials told the protesters to take the tents down. Said University spokesperson Brian Coy:

Earlier this afternoon, University officials became aware of a small group setting up tents near the UVA Chapel. Representatives from UVA Student Affairs and University Police met with the group and informed them that, while they are free to demonstrate in public spaces, tents are prohibited by University policy. The individuals complied with requests to voluntarily take down the tents. There were no arrests and no disruption of University activities.

UVA has seen an increase in peaceful expressive activity on our Grounds this year in response to the ongoing Middle East conflict. As an institution committed to free expression and the open exchange of ideas, we strive to ensure these activities can take place safely, and in a manner that permits all parties to make their voices heard.
The University is prohibited by the Constitution and our own values from restricting speech based on its content, even in cases where the content is hurtful or offensive. We do, however, enforce reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of expressive activities, so as to assure the safety of our community and to avoid disruption to University life or the rights of others. As we become aware of planned expressive activities, University officials engage with organizers to inform them of these policies.”

The video above shows University police taking down a Palestinian flag that had been attached to the pedestal of Thomas Jefferson’s statue.

The main event is scheduled to begin late in the morning today and last until the late afternoon. The Dissenters and Apartheid Divest described their agenda in an Instagram post: They plan to express their solidarity with “the Palestinian people” and call for “an END to the occupation and an end to [U.S.] institutions’ complicity in genocide…. Reaffirm our community’s commitment to Palestinian Liberation. DISCLOSE! DIVEST! WE WILL NOT STOP! WE WILL NOT REST!”

Meanwhile, Jewish students were keeping a low profile.

“Today we joined the growing list of campuses with hate encamped on our doorsteps,” Rabbi Shlomo Mayer posted on the Facebook page of the Chabad House. “While you should be studying for exams and enjoying hot slices of post Pesach pizza, instead you’re dealing with our fellow students and professors attempt at intimidating you off the very space you call home.”

“We … worry that you won’t feel safe, worry that you will be harmed physically, worry you won’t feel you belong,” he said in a separate post. “We can’t promise any of those things won’t happen. We can’t shield you from hate on grounds or on Instagram.”

And in a third: “You will see ugly images of depraved pro-terrorist humans motivated by pure hatred of Jews. But we can promise you one thing. We will be here no matter what…. We are in this together. May we only know a world of peace and light.”

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13 responses to “Amid Arrests on Other Campuses, Tensions Mount at UVA”

  1. Has the JTTF been activated?
    When people state ‘I am Hamas’ take them at their word.

  2. Lefty665 Avatar

    Sounds like a respectful process by all at UVa so far. Hope it stays that way. The most immoderate seems to be the Rabbi.

  3. William O'Keefe Avatar
    William O’Keefe

    Simple compliance with university rules and policies is not too much to expect of students. Those who don’t should be arrested and expelled. Setting an example should be a deterrent. And, students should recognize that outside agitators are making them useful idiots in promoting anarchy.

    1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      Seems to be what happened here… no?

    2. Chip Gibson Avatar
      Chip Gibson

      That’s it. Four sentence recipe for success.

  4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “…but we’re not going to have the kind of hate speech and intimidation we’re seeing across the country in Virginia…”

    You mean right wing hate speech and violence like we saw at UCLA?

  5. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    I think JAB wrote a piece without describing protestors as “militants”…! Great work!

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      If you look up the definition of “useful idiot” in the dictionary, Bernie Sanders’ picture is attached.

      This is the same proudly Jewish socialist who honeymooned in The Soviet Union.

      The same Soviet Union that Biden’s State Department correctly accuses of more than 100 years of anti-semitism.

      Bernie will turn 83 in September. He was dumb in his 40s and is stump stupid now.

      He is a walking, talking advertisement for both term and age limits for US national politicians.

      1. Chip Gibson Avatar
        Chip Gibson

        Well stated – best description of Bernie ever.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      Even Joe Biden knows better than that half-wit Bernie Sanders:

      “It is against the law when violence occurs. Destroying property is not a peaceful protest, it’s against the law. Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduations, none of this is a peaceful protest. Threatening people, intimidating people, instilling fear in people is not peaceful protest, it is against the law.”

      The lunch counter protests (including one of the original sit-ins at the Alexandria Public Library) were pointedly non-violent.

      The pro-terrorist rallies on today’s college campuses are violent riots, not peaceful demonstrations.

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        Of course Biden also just had to add,

        “There is no place for hate speech…whether it’s anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or discrimination against Arab Americans, or Palestinian Americans!”

        Where is there evidence of Islamophobia in the recent campus uprisings?

        I guess there must be “very fine people” on both sides of this issue.

      2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        The only “violent riots” I have seen are those created by the police.

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