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“This is like our second home, so to see the attack of hate that was here was disturbing,” Braxton says.
Knowing that students had to return to Grounds to start the fall semester, “we couldn’t be fearful to come back” as alumni, Braxton says.
It took nearly an hour for the entire crowd to walk the route from start to finish. ,” “Stand By Me,” “God Bless America” and “The Good Old Song.” On the north side of the Rotunda, a man with a short gray braid burned sage as people took photos and video with their phones.
Alumnae Javona Braxton and Nadia Anderson, who were roommates at the university in the late 1990s and currently serve as advisers to black UVA students, stood together near the Jefferson statue. “We were concerned,” says Anderson, “not sure exactly what to do, but we wanted to be here and be a part of it, so we prayed and we got on the road” from Richmond.
“It made me feel more confident, but it’s sad that it needs to occur,” he says.
“It’ll definitely affect our community, but as students, we take it and it makes us stronger.I think we expected more people just to show up on their own,” especially because the torchlight march was public knowledge at that point. She and her fellow students, plus a few antifa folks who had heard about the march as well, were the only people she saw on the plaza. “I knew it was coming, but it was still terrifying,” she says.At around pm, the students arrived at the Rotunda steps facing University Avenue. Soon, they heard a roar from down the street that “sounded like hundreds of men,” M. The 20 or so students linked arms around the base of the statue—they only just made it around—and called for some onlookers to join them.“They were so loud.” At one point, Curry School professor Walt Heinecke and Dean of Students Allen Groves ran into the crowd and offered to help the students, but they chose to stand their ground for a bit longer.After a few minutes, a fight broke out on one side of the statue.” as they flooded the plaza and surrounded the students.“The moment my heart dropped was when I could no longer hear the people next to me, or myself,” says M.A few students clutched a bed-sheet banner that read, “VA Students Act Against White Supremacy.” Antifa on the scene handed out baseball caps to the students, to help protect their identities and avoid future harassment from the alt-right.“It stings to see people criticizing [the antifa] for violence, because they were really the only people who protected us” that night, says M., who was one of the banner holders. didn’t look over the banner in front of her as the tiki-torch carrying white supremacists marched down the Rotunda steps, screaming “white lives matter!“As a member of this community, and also a civil rights historian and legal scholar, I can think of no more important task at this moment,” writes Goluboff in a message to the Cavalier community.Among the group’s tasks will be to explore legal options to events that can be forbidden on Grounds, and to hire an outside security firm to conduct a comprehensive review and propose recommendations for security and safety improvements.