This essay was written by a law student at the University of Virginia who decided to counterprotest on Friday when members of Unite the Right stormed the campus. She shared it in the Pantsuit Nation Facebook group with the hope of calling allies to arms to join Saturday’s protest. It is reprinted with permission and edited for clarity and length.
My friend and I arrived on campus on Friday night and were met with hundreds of white nationalists — of course, 99% white men — carrying torches through what is known as the lawn, the main quad of campus. They chanted, “You will not replace us” and “white lives matter.” Because they planned the rally for when students would not be on campus, and they held this rally as a surprise, there were comparatively much fewer counter-protestors. We tried to keep our distance but felt it was tremendously important to document what was happening, so we went live on our phones; below is that video.
The white nationalist groups walked around the rotunda, which sits at the front of the lawn, and began to gather around the Thomas Jefferson statue on the other side of the rotunda. At the statue, around ten of our fellow University of Virginia (UVA) students gathered with a sign that read “UVA Students Against White Supremacy.” The Nazi group gathered around them for about 30 seconds, as the rest of the white nationalists came down from the steps and joined the circle, and then began to attack the UVA students at the base of the statute; the students were brutally beaten and outnumbered at least 50 to 1. Police began to intervene, seemingly spraying pepper spray or tear gas, forcing the crowd to disperse. Many people tried to run and were arrested when they were caught …read more