With State of Local Emergency in Place, Safety and Security Are Top Priorities for Weekend

University, state and local officials briefed the media Wednesday on security plans as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of local emergency. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)

University of Virginia officials leading the safety and security preparations for this weekend have kept members of the University community updated in preceding weeks, and encouraged them to support one another during the emotionally charged weekend.

A number of safety and preparedness measures have been put into place in advance of the one-year anniversary of last August’s violence.  

In a recent message to the University community, President James E. Ryan said the University continues to work with the city, county, state and national law enforcement to make sure every resource is available in case of an emergency, and that the first priority is to keep people safe.

“Although there is a good deal of uncertainty with respect to this weekend, there is little doubt that it will be difficult and challenging along a number of dimensions,” Ryan wrote. “While UVA and Charlottesville are as prepared as we can be, it will remain a fluid and dynamic situation. What I can promise you is that we are doing everything we can to make sure this weekend is marked not with violence, but with reflection, renewal, and hope. And I ask you, sincerely, for your help in achieving this goal.”

On Wednesday, the City of Charlottesville, County of Albemarle and state announced that a local state of emergency had been declared. The declaration is a required administrative step that positions officials to draw on additional public safety resources as needed.

The declaration has not altered the University’s operations at this time. Any changes in the University’s operating schedule due to an emergency or other public safety issue will be posted on the University’s Operation Status Board website and communicated to the UVA community on multiple platforms.

The UVA Medical Center’s Emergency Department, outpatient clinics and inpatient hospital will remain open to serve patients from Charlottesville and throughout the region.

Local residents and visitors to UVA and Charlottesville should expect to see a significant law enforcement presence in the region from the state, city, county and University, and many officers on certain assignments will be wearing protective gear. Security will be increased for public University events during the weekend.

Access limitations to roadways, public spaces and buildings may need to be implemented in response to activities in an area.

On Saturday, the University will host “The Hope that Summons Us: A Morning of Reflection and Renewal.” A number of other events are being held by community groups throughout the region, and while no permit for a rally has been granted, it is expected that people will be participating in demonstration-related activities throughout the weekend.

Access to the following areas will be limited starting now and continuing through the weekend:

  • Certain areas of the upper plaza surrounding the Jefferson statue on the north side of the Rotunda will be restricted through Monday, Aug. 13 at 7 a.m.
  • On Saturday, Aug. 11, from 6 a.m. until noon, access to the Lawn will be limited to attendees for a ticketed event and Lawn residents.
  • Activities and events in the Academical Village, the Rotunda and its North Plaza will be subject to higher security. This includes extending the existing prohibition of firearms to the North Plaza, through Aug. 13 at 7 a.m.
  • The City of Charlottesville has posted information about road closures and restricted areas on its website. If you expect to be downtown, please be sure to check this webpage for frequently asked questions and other updates.

The following items are prohibited throughout all University facilities and University property through Aug. 13 at 7 a.m.:

BB guns, pellet guns, air rifles or pistols, paintball guns, nun chucks, tasers, stun guns, heavy gauge metal chains, lengths of lumber or wood, poles, bricks, rocks, metal beverage or food cans or containers (used for any purpose other than consumption of food or drinks), glass bottles, axes, axe handles, hatchets, ice picks, acidic or caustic materials, hazardous or flammable or combustible liquids, skateboards, swords, knives, daggers, razor blades or other sharp items, metal pipes, pepper or bear spray, mace, aerosol sprays, catapults, wrist rockets, bats, sticks, clubs, drones, explosives, fireworks, open fire or open flames, and any other item considered an “implement of riot.”

Items like glass bottles, metal beverage and food containers, and personal toiletries will be allowed as long as they are being used for their intended purpose.

The job of law enforcement will be to address illegal behavior, and do so in a way that is impartial, responsible, reasonable and fair, officials said.

As members of the regional planning team develop and implement safety and security plans to mitigate and respond to acts of violence and destruction of property, University officials have been meeting regularly with counterparts at the state and local levels, including law enforcement agencies, first responders and emergency management agencies.

The Regional Emergency Operations Center and the University’s Critical Incident Management Team will both be activated throughout the weekend.

In case of emergency, the University will notify people through text and email alerts, as well as screens across Grounds. You are encouraged to subscribe to UVA Alerts through the Office of Safety and Emergency Preparedness website. The University has also set up a dedicated UVA Today webpage with all official University communications.

You can also follow the UVA Office of Safety and Emergency Preparedness Twitter account (@UVASafety) for important safety updates. The University’s official Twitter (@UVA) and Facebook accounts will also be sharing information.

Since last year’s events, a number of policy changes and other initiatives have been introduced, led by recommendations from the Dean’s Working Group. The group, chaired by School of Law Dean Risa Goluboff, was charged with assessing and leading the University’s response to the white supremacist rallies of Aug. 11 and 12, 2017.

Measures taken include:

Increased security: An independent review of the University’s security and safety initiatives led to several enhancements, including increased security measures and a clear bag policy for large events. 

That policy will be in effect for “The Hope that Summons Us: A Morning of Reflection and Renewal.”

See details on the clear bag policy here.

Updated time, place and manner policy: UVA revised its time, place and manner policy governing expressive activity by groups that are unaffiliated with the University meeting outdoors on University property. The policy requires unaffiliated persons to make reservations in order to use designated locations. 

See details here

Updated policies for the Academical Village and open flames: In September, the Board of Visitors passed resolutions classifying the Academical Village as a University facility and updating to the University’s open flame policy.

The open-flames regulation strengthens University policy such that no one may kindle or authorize an open flame within any University facility or property without the approval of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety or the UVA Medical Center Fire Protection Inspector’s Office.

See details here.

Formally recognizing the Academical Village and the outdoor spaces it includes as a University facility allows the University to expressly prohibit the possession, storage or use of any weapon, firework or other explosive or dangerous chemicals by the general public or visitors.

The Academical Village is defined as the property bordered by the Rotunda, Hospital Drive and McCormick Road, including the Rotunda, Pavilions, Lawn and Range rooms, gardens and the lower Lawn area.

See details here.

Media Contact

Anthony P. de Bruyn

University Spokesperson Office of University Communications