Three students arrested after protesting at Bicentennial celebration

U.Va. Police arrested students for trespassing after they unfurled a banner reading, '200 Years of White Supremacy'

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The banner the arrested students held up read, "200 Years of White Supremacy."

Yixuan Liu | Cavalier Daily

The University Police Department arrested three students for trespassing at the Bicentennial Launch Celebration Friday night. The students were led away from the Lawn in handcuffs.

The three students were arrested after they held up a banner reading, “200 Years of White Supremacy,” in front of a screen showing coverage of the Bicentennial.

The students were processed at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail and released Friday night. All three were charged with trespassing, a Class 1 misdemeanor.

“The UVA Bicentennial Launch Friday on the Lawn was a ticketed event,” University Deputy Spokesperson Matt Charles said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “Any person who interrupts an invited speaker or event shall be requested to leave and removed if they refuse to leave or persist in interrupting any speaker or event.”

University Police arrested students Hannah Russell-Hunter, Joshua Williams and Lossa Zenebe, UPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Benjamin Rexrode said in an email.

Russell-Hunter declined to comment on Saturday. Williams and Zenebe did not return email inquiries. 

In a Facebook post Friday night, activist organization U.Va. Students United spoke out against the arrests.

“They were arrested for speaking out against and protesting white supremacy at U.Va., which this institution was founded on,” U.Va. Students United wrote.

Earlier in the day on Friday, U.Va. Students United held a banner reading, “Welcome To UVA! 200 Years Of White Supremacy” from a pedestrian bridge crossing Emmet Street near John Paul Jones Arena.  

Friday night’s Bicentennial event incorporated aspects of the University’s history with slavery and white supremacy through projections on the Rotunda and musical performances by numerous artists including R&B singer Andra Day and “Hamilton” actor Leslie Odom, Jr. 

Several descendants of slaves who worked at the University, Monticello, James Madison’s Montpelier and James Monroe’s Highland were featured in the lineup of special guests. They shared their ancestors’ stories of dehumanization and resilience. 

“We are here in the flesh representing the strong spirits of our ancestors,” said Leontyne Clay Peck, a descendant of Henry Clay. “We are here because they were here 200 years ago.”

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