Dear Members of the University Community:
All of us are profoundly concerned and disturbed by incidents occurring this weekend related to the “Unite the Right” rally in downtown Charlottesville.
Last night, alt-right protestors carrying torches marched on UVA’s Grounds, attempting to intimidate bystanders and spread their message of intolerance and hate. There were several violent altercations during and after the march, and minor injuries were reported, including one University police officer who was injured while making an arrest.
During today’s “Unite the Right” rally in the city, there were numerous outbreaks of violence and reported injuries among protestors and counter-protestors. Earlier, we had encouraged all UVA community members to avoid the rally and to attend UVA-sponsored events instead. However, due to public safety concerns and after a declaration of a State of Emergency in Virginia, we cancelled the previously scheduled events that included academic programming, community discussions in the University Libraries, and athletic events.
The University of Virginia is a public institution and follows state and federal law regarding the public’s right to access open spaces, including the rights of the marchers who assembled on our Grounds last night. We also support the First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly, including the rights of the protestors and counter-protestors today. At the same time, we know that the ideologies and beliefs expressed by many of the groups that have converged on Charlottesville this weekend contradict our values of diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect. We strongly condemn intimidating and abhorrent behavior intended to strike fear and sow division in our community. Acts of violence are not protected by the First Amendment.
The safety and well-being of all UVA community members is my foremost concern as president. We are continuing to monitor the developments in downtown Charlottesville and to coordinate with state and local law enforcement. The UVA medical center remains open.
We will continue to uphold our shared values as a community and reject the ideology of intolerance and hate.
Teresa A. Sullivan