UVA removes black shroud from Jefferson statue after protest

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The University of Virginia has removed a black shroud that protesters draped over a statue of Thomas Jefferson during a demonstration on campus, the college’s president said Wednesday.
A group of about 100 people including students, faculty and community members gathered Tuesday night to protest the university’s response to white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville this summer, The Daily Progress reported.
One person was arrested for public intoxication during the demonstration, UVA President Teresa Sullivan said in statements sent to students, faculty, staff and alumni. She said the number of protesters was closer to 40.
The demonstrators covered the statue of Jefferson, the third president of the United States and UVA’s founder, and put up signs that called him a “rapist” and “racist.” The statue stands in front of the Rotunda, which Jefferson designed and where white nationalists carrying tiki torches clashed with counter-demonstrators just over a month ago.
That march on campus was followed the next day by a larger rally in downtown Charlottesville that descended into violence.
Sullivan said she strongly disagreed with the demonstrators’ decision to shroud the statue, saying they had desecrated ground that “many of us consider sacred.”
She wrote that Jefferson was a slave owner and that the university was dependent on slavery in its early years. Many historians also say Jefferson likely fathered six children with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings.
But Sullivan said Jefferson also “made many contributions to the progress of the early American Republic: he served as the third President of the United States, championed religious freedom, and authored the Declaration of Independence.”
The demonstrators called for the university to meet demands issued by the Black Student Alliance after the white nationalist rallies. They include the removal of Confederate plaques on the Rotunda and adding context to the Jefferson statue.
A group of university leaders is reviewing UVA’s response to the August rallies, and the college has also hired an outside firm to conduct a separate review.

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