Civil Disobedience Without Consequences

by James A. Bacon

The anarchists who organized the UVA Encampment for Gaza are clamoring for the University of Virginia to reverse its No Trespass Order (NTO) against nursing student Mustafa Abdelhamid. The circumstances behind the sanction are absent from the brief Instagram post by the anarchist collective, but the restriction was imposed for actions relating to the Virginia State Police crackdown on the pro-Palestinian tent “encampment” on May 4.

Abdelhamid is the only arrestee whose No Trespass Appeal (NTO) appeal was denied, claims UVA Encampment for Gaza.

Even though the protester is identified as a Piedmont Virginia Community College student, Encampment for Gaza asserts that the order prohibiting him from entering UVA Grounds is “preventing him from pursuing his nursing studies. Please join our appeal by endorsing our letter and telling UVA administration to let Mustafa nurse,” says the Instagram post.

Maybe Abdelhamid should have pondered the potential consequences before doing whatever it was that he did that got him in trouble.

I suppose one could make the case that Abdelhamid had no expectation that the UVA administration would hold him accountable for anything.

UVA routinely issues NTOs for people engaging in non-political behavior. But it has made exceptions. At least five white supremacists who participated in the 2017 tiki-torch march in 2017 were slapped with NTOs.

Issuing NTOs to militant protesters just wasn’t done (unless they were affiliated with the alt-right), as I personally witnessed during a Jefferson Council event last year featuring author Abigail Shrier. Ignoring their university-issued permit to rally in the Amphitheater, more than 100 demonstrators walked up a steep flight of steps, lined the sidewalk to the speaking venue, and hurled obscenities, insults and taunts at the people walking into the building, then repeated the harassment when attendees walked back to their cars.

In a report submitted to the Board of Visitors last year, The Jefferson Council recommended that the administration issue NTOs to off-campus agitators who break the rules. While University officials did not condone the behavior, they saw no reason to sanction anyone. “The post-event review strongly suggests … that these were not University students who were present during the walk toward the garage, based on our investigators’ familiarity with some of them,” university officials stated in their response to our report.

It seems that UVA President Jim Ryan has had a change of heart. When defending his decision to crack down on the pro-Gaza encampment, which violated University rules regarding the erection and placement of tents, he noted that civil disobedience has a long and honored tradition in American history. Demonstrators broke the law knowing they could and would be arrested and charged. The willingness to accept punishment, he said, gave their actions moral force. 

Moreover, if the anarchists’ Instagram posts are to be believed, tent protesters are subject not just to punishment by local courts but also to University sanctions.

“How is UVA helping us heal?” whines one post. “Administration sends arrested students to disciplinary trials and withholds their degree [and] arrested staff are being required to write apology letters.”

Charlottesville’s militants want civil disobedience without consequences. It is heartening to see that the administration is enforcing the rules and holding students accountable for their behavior.

In related news, the anarchist collective tried to stir up trouble in Charlottesville’s high schools, calling for a student walkout Friday. “The student movement continues,” the group proclaimed. “The people united will never be defeated.”

The post has generated 279 likes, so it appears that some members of the community are sympathetic. However, the high school walkout did not generate enough participation to warrant media attention.

I did like one response to the anarchists’ Instagram post, though: “Disgusting. Bad enough adults don’t know what they’re talking about but you’re dragging kids into it also??? And thinking a high school march out is going to do anything???”

James A. Bacon is contributing editor to The Jefferson Council.

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61 responses to “Civil Disobedience Without Consequences”

  1. Rafaelo Avatar

    “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.” — Martin Luther King, Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 16 April 1963.

  2. Wahoo'74 Avatar

    Great article Jim. Actions have consequences, at least they should.

    The tiki torch racists were rightfully sanctioned. Everyone agrees with that. Mustafa will need to understand that he too must pay the price.

    I’m sure Iranian nursing schools would welcome him with open arms if he wants to complete his degree.

    1. William O'Keefe Avatar
      William O’Keefe

      It is a great article and it is refreshing to see that the UVA leadership may now understand that appeasement doesn’t work.
      If UVA is going to have rules, they need to be enforced.

      1. Turbocohen Avatar

        With rules enforced the way UVA leadership enforces rules, who needs rules? At the same token, with friends like campus protestors that support Hamas, who needs enemies?

  3. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    TJC is back to its “anarchists” pejorative…. with a few “militants” thrown in for good measure…

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Because “civil disobeyer” doesn’t carry the same sense of urgency when labeling an other as an other.

  4. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    Although I don’t disagree, it brings back good and bad memories. I appreciate the young standing up for something. I really didn’t think they had it in them. I remember during the first Iraq war going to Asheville, a very Bohemian town, and wanting to join a group of women protesting the war. They were being carted off by police (carrying each) at dusk when the City square closed. My daughter who was about 25 at the time was absolutely horrified that I wanted to join. I was very disappointed in her. 🥲

  5. CJBova Avatar

    Let’s keep comments on topic or closely related.
    If anyone wants to engage in a discussion on a topic not directly related to a posted article, write it up and send to Jim Bacon.
    Moderation is going to be tighter on snark and off topic meandering.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    If you’re gonna do sanctions for violating UVA policy (and I don’t disagree with their right to do that), it’s important that it be applied uniformly across the board, no exceptions.

    The message gets sent. Sanctions levied/consequences of any/all who violated the policy, and everyone knows and behaves accordingly.

    It’s when this is not done – that sanctions are not consistent that things can go sideways with further actions and claims of unfair treatment, and some will then seek to push the envelope again and further. UVA needs to quickly apply the same sanctions each and every time and then people know the consequences and can make their choices without a complaint about selective treatment.

    Consistency is important these affairs IMO but it does not mean the protestors will quit, either. If they believe
    strongly in their cause, they will continue. There will just have to be ground rules that will be consistent and enforced.

    My point of view……..

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      We are talking about just UVa, right? Nothing closer to home?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        more than UVA, yes. set a rule. enforce it uniformly and don’t cause “churn”.

    2. VaPragamtist Avatar

      Without knowing more details, it’s hard to say that the policy wasn’t applied uniformly.

      It appears the policy distinguished between students, employees, and outsiders for both issuing and appealing NTOs:

      Was the individual a UVA using student, or a PVCC nursing student who, through an agreement with UVA, has/had the opportunity for clinical experience through UVA Medical Center:

      Did he go through the appropriate appeal process (which can be different, depending on who issued the NTO to the students and employees)?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar


      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        nothing is ever simple… 😉

  7. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Somebody proud of this one. Comments scrubbed and all clean and shiny.

    “Maybe Abdelhamid should have pondered the potential consequences before doing whatever it was that he did that got him in trouble.”

    So you don’t know, probably don’t care, but seem okay with a punishment being meted out because…

    Hmm, one must ponder? Could it be his name?

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      him and none of the others?
      rhyme or reason in sanctions?

      yep… someone took an axe to the comments…

  8. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate. -Hubert Humphrey, US Vice President (27 May 1911-1978)

  9. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    Just leaving this here… a displaced persons encampment…

  10. Only if he works for Unwra in Rahfa…. walk the walk buttercup

  11. Turbocohen Avatar

    Israel uses weapons to protect people.
    Hamas uses people to protect weapons.
    The Rafah lie has been exposed, explosive laden Hamas vehicles blew up killing most of the civilians. You wont hear UVA faculty or students saying the truth because it interferes with UVA anarchists plans.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      The Viet Cong, Taliban, Isis did the same thing, right?

      1. Turbocohen Avatar

        Pick your friends

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          …”explosive laden Hamas vehicles blew up killing most of the civilians..”


        2. Lefty665 Avatar

          And with friends like war criminals Israel, who needs enemies?

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