Shortly after the University of Virginia Young Americans for Freedom’s 9/11: Never Forget Project was vandalized, President Jim Ryan emailed the Board of Visitors, claiming “…this was a false alarm…” despite refusing to release surveillance footage.
In an internal email obtained by Young America’s Foundation, Ryan claims that a university police department officer watched footage of the area and deemed that there was no vandalism. “At no point does anyone knock over the flags,” he wrote. “As the officer reports, ‘it appears that the flags were knocked over by the breeze that was occurring on that day.’” Ryan then reminds the board “not to jump to conclusions before having all of the facts.”
Ryan also claimed the table, photographed as having been completely flipped over, was knocked over as a result of the wind. “There was also a suggestion that the table used in the ceremony was flipped over in anger. The video instead shows someone picking up the table long after the ceremony was over (which means there was nothing on the table), putting the table on its side and folding down a leg. As the officer reports, the person ‘lifted the table in a gentle manner and did not forcefully flip the table.’ The table does not appear to have been damaged,” he wrote.
According to Nick Cabrera, chairman of UVA YAF, he was denied the opportunity to view the footage with his own eyes. “We asked when we went into the UPD’s office to talk to investigators. They said they would have to ask their higher up,” he told YAF. Cabrera said he has not received a response since.
Young America’s Foundation calls on the University of Virginia to release the video footage and bring to light what really happened that day.
Both the university’s spokesman Brian Coy and President Jim Ryan did not respond to YAF’s requests for comment.
On 9/11, YAF reported on the vandalism of multiple flag displays across the country—including at UVA. A table was flipped, flags were ripped from the ground, and a sign for the event was found blocks away at a local bar.
“I find it disheartening that some students are not able to understand the tragedies of 9/11. This year being the 20th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks, it was especially important to honor and remember the 2,977 lives lost,” Cabrera told YAF.
This year saw a significant uptick in vandalism on the anniversary of 9/11. To brush this off as “the wind” is questionable at best. Students and community members deserve to view the footage, especially if it really was just the wind.