President Julio Frenk, Miami community react to Charlottesville attack

Nearly two days after a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters at a march organized by white nationalists, University of Miami President Julio Frenk released a statement condemning the violence.

In an email sent to the UM community on Monday afternoon, Frenk stated that while UM defends the right to freedom of speech and assembly, the university denounces “the rhetoric and actions of white supremacists and any other groups that promote exclusion, suppression, and intimidation of people who look, speak, or pray differently.”

On Aug. 12, white nationalists gathered for a “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Virginia near the University of Virginia campus. The demonstration was in opposition to the removal of a statue of the Confederacy’s top general Robert E. Lee.

During the march, white nationalists and counterprotesters engaged in heated disputes. Some disagreements escalated to physical violence including brawls.

Around 1:45 p.m., a car driven by James Alex Fields Jr, 20, crashed into a group of counterprotestors, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

Following the news of the attack, vigils were scheduled in cities across the country to stand in solidarity and peace. In Miami, the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America organized a candlelight vigil on Aug. 13 in Bayfront Park.

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Demonstrators gather to honor victims of the violence in Charlottesville at a candlelight vigil at Bayfront Park. Photo credit: Annie Cappetta

For Gerry Doherty, an organizer, the attack was one that hit other communities outside of Charlottesville, including Miami.

“It was an attack on all of us. It was an attack on the very concept of democratic solidarity and people can’t be silent,” he said.

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Recent UM graduate Jeremy Penn attends vigil for Charlottesville. Photo credit: Annie Cappetta

At the end of Frenk’s email, he stated UM’s commitment to “evolve and flourish” only through “respectful and constructive exchanges.”