After learning of the violent outcome of demonstrations in nearby Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend, University of Lynchburg President Kenneth R. Garren released the following statement in solidarity with the citizens of Charlottesville, the University of Virginia community, and all others impacted by the violence. The message was emailed to alumni, students, faculty, and staff in the evening of August 12.
Dear Members of the University of Lynchburg Community,
I write to share with you my thoughts on this weekend’s senseless violence and hatred in our neighboring city of Charlottesville.
First and foremost, I wish to express my condolences to those impacted by the loss of life and offer prayers and best wishes to the many injured as violence erupted during the Unite the Right rally in the city’s downtown.
I also wish to express solidarity with our colleagues and friends at the University of Virginia. Like Lynchburg, Virginia is a place that holds dear the tenets of community, diversity, inclusion, and especially, freedom of speech and the right to assemble.
I find it reprehensible that extremists would twist our core values to their own ugly ends. This is domestic terrorism, pure and simple. It cannot and will not be tolerated. There is no excuse for the senseless violence and harm caused in the past days by extremist groups such as neo Nazis, the KKK, white supremacists and the so-called alt-right. I am shocked and saddened by broadcast images of armed militia on the streets of our neighboring city.
I pledge to do all I can to continue the pursuit of diversity and inclusion, open and honest civil discourse, and mutual respect for all. I will insist upon it here at Lynchburg and pray that you will join me in pursuing these basic and decent goals in your own communities.
Finally, please rest assured that the safety and well-being of University of Lynchburg students, faculty, staff, and alumni remain my priority, above all else.
Again, please join me in pledging support for our friends and neighbors in Charlottesville. I know the healing has begun and I pray for a strong and swift recovery.
Kenneth R. Garren, PhD
President, University of Lynchburg