Masked group holds anti-Nazi demonstration at Jefferson statue

Group calling itself ‘The Otherwise Society’ gathers in memory of Alfred Delp, a Jesuit priest executed by Nazis in 1945

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One of the demonstrators recited lines from reflections by Alfred Delp, who was a German Jesuit priest and leader of the Catholic resistance to Nazism.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

A group of masked individuals calling themselves the “The Otherwise Society” gathered by the Thomas Jefferson statue at the Rotunda Friday for what appeared to be an anti-Nazi demonstration. The seven demonstrators honored Alfred Delp, a German Jesuit priest and leader of the Catholic resistance to Nazism who was sentenced to death in a Nazi prison. 

Using a megaphone, one of the seven demonstrators recited lines from “The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp,” a collection of reflections by Alfred Delp. Friday marked the 73rd anniversary of Delp’s execution, which took place on Feb. 2, 1945. 

“An honest self-appraisal combined with a sober summing up of one’s own capacity and potentiality is the first step for truth in life,” the individual recited. “The truth shall set you free, and freedom in every part of life is all that matters.”

The demonstrators passed out small sheets of paper, with quotes from their speech and “The Prison Meditations.”

The gathering lasted just under 30 minutes, after which the individuals walked under the Rotunda’s south portico. Reporters from The Cavalier Daily saw several older men believed to be the demonstrators walk out of a bathroom unmasked.

First-year College student Matthew Foreman watched the gathering and said he believed the demonstration was a good way for the society to get their message out.

“I think it’s centered around the [idea of] waking up … just to an awareness, an intellectual awareness right now, which I think is a message we need,” Foreman said. “Because we had the Nazis marching here in Charlottesville.”

On the evening of Aug. 11, 2017, white nationalists marched through Grounds with torches and gathered at the same Jefferson statue, where they clashed with counter-protesters. 

The white nationalists then attended the Unite the Right rally the following day, which ultimately resulted in the death of local resident Heather Heyer and numerous injuries when a car plowed into a crowd of people near the Charlottesville Downtown Mall. 

Marsh Pattie, the University’s assistant vice president for Student Affairs and associate dean of students, was observed speaking with members of the group after they moved away from the Jefferson statue. He told The Cavalier Daily it is illegal for adults to wear masks in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

According to the section 18.2-422 of the Code of Virginia, “It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, to be or appear in any public place … without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing.” 

Pattie said does not know whether the individuals will face repercussions.

“I don’t know who they are other than what they handed out,” Pattie said.

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