Things Fall Apart: Peoples’ Republic of Charlottesville Edition

The Corner

by James A. Bacon

While various student groups at the University of Virginia are calling for defunding local law-enforcement programs, some parents of UVa students support a stronger police presence around the university after a wave of shootings last year.

An open letter addressed to UVa President Jim Ryan and university police chief Tim Longo voices support for bolstering UVa police patrols in areas adjacent to the university, such as the retail strip known as the Corner, the fraternity row along Rugby Road, and the residential neighborhoods around the university.

Noting that the City of Charlottesville police department is significantly understaffed, the letter states that since May 2021, the 2,000 students living on the W. Main corridor “have lived under the constant threat of automatic gunfire and faced the risk of being struck by stray bullets.” Charlottesville crime reports show that gun violence escalated in 2021, and members of the public reported “more shootings in the year to date than in the entirety of 2020,” the letter said.

(The article in the student publication The Jefferson Independent from which I’m drawing this account does not provide the date in which the letter was composed.)

“Prior to the increase in police presence, UVA students and Charlottesville community members endured almost daily automatic weapon gunfire,” says the letter, which documented a surge of six gun-related incidents on the UVa periphery last September alone, as well as a few others before and after. In one incident a UVa student in a restaurant restroom was struck by a stray bullet.

The letter credits the fall-off in shootings to an increase in city and university police presence, commends “senior administration” for its “courageous leadership” in keeping the university safe, and asks for UVa to stay the course.

Bacon’s bottom line: Local media have reported that the Charlottesville Police Department, which has been embroiled in controversy over the past year, is down 23 sworn officers and eight civilian positions. While police manpower shortages are endemic across the country, the situation in Charlottesville is aggravated by poor morale. In a survey last year, 90% of responding police said that fear of being targeted by leftist political groups and not being supported by higher-ups had caused them to reduce their normal policing activities.

Anti-police sentiment is strong among UVa students as well. Last year, several residents of the Lawn posted signage stating, “F*CK Tim Longo: UVA’s chief of police is a racist piece of sh*t.”

Last year, a columnist in the student newspaper The Cavalier Daily called for defunding the Charlottesville police after the “murder” of 18-year-old Xavier Hill, who was shot after a high-speed chase on Interstate 95. (A grand jury investigation found the shooting to be justified.) “At a broad level, there’s no correlation between more police and less crime,” stated the op-ed piece.

Parents of UVa students think otherwise.

Such is life in the radicalized community of the Peoples’ Republic of Charlottesville and in the university which lives within it in ideological symbiosis. Ideology reins supreme and blots out reality.