CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — University of Virginia police relied on incomplete intelligence ahead of a march of torch-wielding white nationalists on campus and failed to enforce prohibitions on fires, according to a report released Monday.
The report , compiled by a group of deans and other leaders of the Charlottesville university, focuses on how UVA handled the march on Aug. 11, the night before a larger rally in the city’s downtown that erupted into violence. Hundreds of white men carrying tiki torches descended on the campus, shouting racial slurs as they marched. At one point, they confronted a small group of counter-demonstrators, and police said several people were injured.
The nighttime march wasn’t publicized the way the Aug. 12 rally was. Leading up to the weekend, the university relied on intelligence from a state law enforcement hub called the Virginia Fusion Center, the report says.
“In hindsight, the University could have been more proactive in seeking out information about potential alternate activities planned for August 11 prior to the main rally on August 12,” it says.
The report also says the police “over-relied” on information provided by white nationalist organizers, which turned out to be “deliberately misleading and ultimately inaccurate.”
In addition, the report says police weren’t aware they could enforce university limits on open burns or a state law prohibiting burns with the intent to intimidate.
The day after the campus march, an even larger group of white nationalists gathered in downtown for the rally, which was planned in part to protest the city’s decision to remove a Confederate monument. The event never got underway because the white nationalists and counter-demonstrators began to clash violently in the streets. Authorities declared an unlawful assembly and forced the crowd to disperse.
Later, as counter-demonstrators were marching along a downtown street, a car plowed into the crowd. One woman was killed and many more were injured. The death toll for the day rose to three when a helicopter that had been monitoring the day’s events crashed, killing two state troopers.
The university group is continuing to review other aspects of the weekend, and UVA has also hired an outside firm to conduct a separate review.
“Going forward, the University of Virginia and higher education institutions across the nation must be prepared to respond to situations in which violence and intimidation accompany demonstrations and protests,” the report says.