Back to the Blue Ridge: Review of the Charlottesville Protests

Today, Hunton & Williams of Richmond, Virginia has released the final version of their “Independent Review of the 2017 Protest Events in Charlottesville, Virginia”. Earlier this year, Charlottesville was the home of several “alt-right” rallies, one of which, in August, saw white nationalists and pro-Nazi individuals marching through the campus of the University of Virginia with tiki torches. In particular, the investigative team researched and analyzed the events of May 13-14, July 8, and August 11-12, all of which occurred in response to the decision to remove the statues of confederate generals and historical figures Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Hunton & Williams finds that, as these protests and events progressed throughout the summer, so also did the breakdown in the competency of both government and law enforcement. According to the report, and especially evident at the time and days following the August protests, “the City of Charlottesville protected neither free expression nor public safety”. As a whole, “this represents a failure of one of government’s core functions—the protection of fundamental rights. Law enforcement also failed to maintain order and protect citizens from harm, injury, and death. Charlottesville
preserved neither of those principles on August 12, which has led to deep distrust of government within this community.”

Recommendations are being categorized into four major headings: Preparing for Civil Disturbance, Effective Management of Protest Events, Changes in Law, and Restoring Faith in Government. The verdict is still out on how the City will respond. According to the local CBS affiliate, the findings of Hunton & Williams’ report will be presented to the Charlottesville City Council on Monday, December 4th, at 4:00 p.m. EST.