In the wake of the August 11, 2017 riots at the University of Virginia that left three dead and dozens injured, I was asked to comment on it when I addressed more than a dozen African journalists. I demurred, for about the same reason that I occasionally demur on similar questions: I told the young lady who made the inquiry that I simply did not have enough information on the event.
Now, nearly five months after the fact, we know a lot more about what transpired before the Charlottesville face-off between the alt-right and alt left, thanks to a public records request from The Chronicle of Higher Education that netted the publication thousands of internal emails from UVA. “The documents show administrators slowly coming to grips with the full scope of a menacing mob, which brought with it violence that, according to an internal investigation, might have been defused or prevented had the campus police and university leaders heeded warning signs,” Jack Stipling wrote in The Chronicle in an article which appeared on December 1, 2017.
For one thing, we have learned that campus police are singularly ill-suited to address genuine security concerns. “Al Thomas Jr., chief of police in Charlottesville, was among several law-enforcement officers who offered assistance to the UVa police before the white supremacists started marching,” Stipling wrote. “’Thanks,’ responded Michael Gibson, the university’s police chief.”
“’We’ll see how this plays out.’”