UVa Rules Out a “Pattern” of Hate Crimes

by James A. Bacon

University of Virginia executive leadership has issued a remarkable statement that lends insight into the fraught state of race relations at Virginia’s flagship university. Three recent incidents have taken place on the Grounds since the new academic year began that have “caused some to speculate that they are linked or part of a larger pattern of racially motived crimes,” said J.J. Wagner Davis, chief operating officer, and Tim Longo, chief of university police.

One incident involved a White man hanging a noose around the neck of the Greek poet Homer, an act of ambiguous meaning that President Jim Ryan promptly branded as a hate crime. The Davis-Longo statement made it clear, however, that two other matters — a report of someone throwing rocks through the window of the Office of African-American Affairs, and the discovery of a flag bearing a strange symbol lying on the grass near the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers — have been determined not to be hate crimes.

“President Ryan has asked us to provide this community with an update and to make as clear as we can: These incidents are not linked, and two of the three were not racially motivated at all,” the statement read.

The series of incidents has roiled the UVa community. As the statement notes, Ryan and other senior University officials have “spoken with many students, faculty and alumni” about efforts to get to the bottom of the events.

In the first of the three incidents, someone threw rocks at the building that houses the Office for African American Affairs (OAAA), breaking two windows.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at U.Va. issued the following statement: “The NAACP at UVA condemns the recent vandalism and property damage inflicted at Dawson’s Row on August, 19th…. As more information in regards to this incident comes to light, let us also acknowledge the home and stability that The Office of African-American Affairs has provided us as Black students here at this university…. No stone thrown with malice will knock down the empire and strength the Office of African American Affairs has created…. Amid these challenging times, we stand by OAAA, we stand together, and we stand in power.”

University police undertook an investigation of the event and quickly ruled out any notion that the stone was thrown out of racial malice. Rather, the perpetrator “was a student who was known to OAAA officials and who was motivated by factors unrelated to racial bias.” The stone thrower was charged with the act of vandalism, a misdemeanor offense, but federal privacy laws forbade the university from divulging the student’s identity.

In the most recent incident, which occurred last weekend, someone reported that a flag bearing a symbol that looked either like a crown or an owl, depending upon how it was viewed, was left on the grass near the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers. The same person also left a check for $888.88, which was delivered to a student’s room. The check bore the same symbol as the flag.

“As rumors swirled around this bizarre set of events, some speculated that the flag represented a white supremacist organization and that the check was somehow a targeted act of intimidation against a student of color,” said the Davis-Longo statement.

The University Police brought in the FBI to investigate. The individual responsible was identified as an alumnus. “We discovered that he is part of an organization focusing on micro-philanthropy that occasionally engages in random acts of kindness to current students,” said the statement. The owl on the flag and check stood for “Wise Investment Philosophy.” The site near the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers was chosen “as a sign of respect.”

Davis and Longo also provided an update on what has become an FBI investigation into the noose incident, which, their statement said, “has been determined to be a hate crime.” Offering a $2,000 reward to anyone providing information that will help solve the crime, authorities have posted grainy photographs of the individual who placed the noose on the statue as well as a car they believe he drove.

The photograph of the automobile provides a hint. It looks very much like a Mercedes convertible I once owned — an expensive vehicle (less expensive if you bought it used at Circuit City like I did). Whatever the make and model, it is not a pickup truck or beat-up Bubba-mobile that one thinks of White supremacists as driving.

The statement also reveals that “documents” were recovered near the Homer statue.

We have been reluctant to say much about these documents, not out of a desire to withhold information (much less to withhold threatening information), but because releasing information about what was found might compromise the integrity of the investigation. Because of the anxiety around Grounds, however, we want to let all of you know that one document found at the scene was a flyer that advertised a student-led social event that had already transpired and was completely unrelated to this incident. Another document recovered was marked with the phrase “TICK TOCK.”

Investigators are still seeking to determine the relevance and relationship between that document and the placement of the noose, as well as the potential significance of the phrase on the document. Because the investigation is ongoing, we are unable to reveal anything more at this time, except to say, again, that nothing recovered at the scene conveys a specific threat to public safety.

The significance of these documents is hard for the public to ascertain. Investigators have not provided images of them, nor explained why they think they might have been associated with the noose. For all anyone knows, they could have been random litter.

Having tamped down rumors of a “visible trend” of hate crimes at UVa, however, Davis and Longo went on to reaffirm UVa’s commitment to racial justice. “That does not mean that members of our community never experience intolerance and discrimination here or anywhere else because of their race. We have placed, and will continue to place, great emphasis on making UVA more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive to people from every walk of life.”

Bacon’s bottom line: At one of the most politically “progressive” institutions in Virginia — a place where the faculty donates to Democratic candidates by 20-to-one margins and the liberal/conservative ratio of students runs 2.7 to 1, a place where an anonymous philanthropist in an act of random kindness handed out an $888.88 check to an African-American student — African Americans feel under siege from omnipresent racism. What does that tell you?

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13 responses to “UVa Rules Out a “Pattern” of Hate Crimes”

  1. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    What does it tell us? That political contributions to Dems make a difference. That the student political spectrum mix is not relevant. That hate of all types on campus is dissipating.

    1. walter smith Avatar
      walter smith

      I think it shows the demand for racism exceeds the supply.
      The student “known” to OAAA and charged with vandalism. Why wasn’t it a hate crime? Was the student “black?” If the student was “white,” would he (sorry for the sexist assumption. Please don’t faint snowflakes!) have been charged with a hate crime? Is that a two tier justice system? Philosophically, I have a problem with “hate crimes.” Crime is crime by any person of any “race” and is certainly not committed as an act of love, but I speak too logically…

      1. James McCarthy Avatar
        James McCarthy

        Nah. The title of the piece tells the tale. A pattern of hate crimes is ruled out at UVA with respect to a few recent incidents. Hate May still exist. Hate crimes (despite your reservations) may yet occur. Experience indicates the supply persists.

        1. walter smith Avatar
          walter smith

          Then why so many hoaxes? Of course they occur. Just not enough naturally, indicating our society is pretty low on pure racial animus, except for the racial animosity of the so-called “anti racists.”

  2. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    If you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
    I just can’t get over the stupidity and waste of time. I still fail to see how the Homer statue could intimidate anybody. Even if fully intended as a “hate crime,” you see it and feel threatened?

    I see a sickle or a hammer and I melt!

    Someone calls me a “honky” or a “redneck” or a “cracker” or a “racist” or a “white supremacist” and I couldn’t care less. UVA is supposed to be educating people to be adults in the real world.

    But, given these sensitivities, is anyone wearing a necktie threatening people? I’m almost inclined to wear clothesline rope as a necktie to trigger these people, but I am sure I would be arrested and treated like the J6 people for doing it. I would be protesting stupidity, which should be free speech, and which UVA says it unequivocally supports, and these same people were probably all for burning the flag as free speech, and porn as free speech, but do you think there is any chance UVA and the Woke Ryan admin would permit my free speech? Only Hira Azher’s, not people who disagree.

    Is a cowboy bolo tie dangerous? People from places like Wyoming need to be careful coming to C-ville…

  3. Why are people of color in fear or under siege if they have an ’empire’ on campus?

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

    “Whatever the make and model, it is not a pickup truck or beat-up Bubba-mobile that one thinks of White supremacists as driving.”

    James Field did not drive a pick-up or beat-up car. He drove a Dodge Challenger that looked not much different than the one in this photo.

    1. The critical part was that Fields was psychotic, not that he was a white supremacist. That was way downstream. The Dodge Challenge, to be or not to be crazier than a hoot owl.

  5. VaPragamtist Avatar

    “The stone thrower was charged with the act of vandalism, a misdemeanor offense, but federal privacy laws forbade the university from divulging the student’s identity.”

    Maybe. But if the individual was charged, there’ll be a court record, for which FERPA doesn’t apply. Just put in a FOIA request for records on vandalism charges in a given time frame.

  6. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “…an act of ambiguous meaning…”

    No, it is not at all ambiguous… unless, of course, one’s goal is to gaslight right wing racism.

  7. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “…an act of ambiguous meaning…”

    No, it is not at all ambiguous… unless, of course, one’s goal is to gaslight right wing racism.

  8. Rob Austin Avatar

    Ryan and his apostles are the epitome of woke. They will do their best to make UVa the Berkeley of the East.

  9. Poets Lives Matter, even dead ones. We need a society or better yet a movement, PLM. Rake in gobs of money, organize mostly peaceful riots, looting, arson and murder. Franchise it nationwide. Buy mansions, contract with relatives, paint PLM on the streets. Recruit members from the homer boys. No novelists, short story writers or columnists need apply. Only Poets Lives Matter.

    America’s founding should be dated from the arrival of the first poem in chained verse in 1619, and the revolution was fought to maintain prose supremacy. Look at those founding documents, all prose, every single one of them. Not even a token poem among them. America has been a systemically anti poet, proseist society right from the get-go.

    Woke up! Being form agnostic is not good enough, people have to be anti-proseist or they’re formist bigots.

    Demand rhyming equity, diverse pentameters, and iambic inclusion in all writing.

    Demand all TV commercials include rhyming couplets.

    Demand reparations for past prose excesses and poetic lynchings.

    Burn James Joyce’s works. Topple statues of Shakespeare. Deface monuments. Alert the DoJ, FBI and Homeland Security, prose supremacists are the biggest threat to our country today. In the words of our glorious leader, revered and demented President they are “a clear and present danger to our Democracy.” That’s not hyperbole, hypocrisy or Corn Poppery.

    PLM chants, good for rallies and riots:

    Black, white, transgender twin, PLM is going to win

    1,2,3,4 we don’t want your prose no more

    Have hope and remember: You too can be a poet, but don’t know it.

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