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Fiery torch demonstrations now illegal on Virginia campus

Fiery torch demonstrations on the University of Virginia campus — like those that marked the Unite the Right rally in August — will no longer be legal following action by a university board.

The school’s Board of Visitors on Friday unanimously approved the banning of open flames, explosives and weapons from the “Lawn,” a large, prominent outdoor area on the campus of the 198-year-old university in Charlottesville, founded by Thomas Jefferson.

The banning of open flames was one of several demands from students following the August 11 nighttime rally of assorted neo-Nazis, white supremacists and racist “alt-right” followers. 

Using tiki torches, the demonstrators marched through the Lawn toward the university’s Rotunda, chanting “Blood and Soil!” and “Jews will not replace us!”  The march preceded the August 12 rally that turned violent.

The university board also voted to remove two plaques from the Rotunda “honoring students and alumni who fought and died for the Confederacy in the Civil War,” the Washington Post reported in weekend editions.

The open-flame policy change will now allow the university to enforce a Virginia state law banning burning objects that have “a direct tendency to place another person in reasonable fear or apprehension of death or bodily injury,” the newspaper reported.

In a third action, the board also agreed to publicly rebuke, with interest, a $1,000 gift made to the university in 1921 by the Ku Klux Klan. The university will now donate $12,500 to the Charlottesville Patient Fund, established after the Unite the Right rally resulted in the death of a young woman and two state police officers.

Photo credit: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.


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