Category Archives: Crime

Student Found Dead

Twenty-year-old UVa student Michelle Elizabeth Collier was found dead in her apartment on Friday afternoon, but, beyond that, nothing is particularly clear. Her cause of death is unknown, the results of an autopsy won’t be released for weeks, and the inspection is apparently being conducted by officials other than local police. WCAV reporter Venton Blandin spotted “unknown officials” removing bags of items from Collier’s apartment and loading them into an SUV registered in New York.

The last high-profile death of a UVa student was the April 2001 murder of Alison Meloy.

Burglary up 400%

Burglaries for the month of October are up 400% over the same month last year, and it’s not clear why, Bryan McKenzie reports in today’s Progress. (It’s also not clear why Bryan McKenzie is writing a straight news piece.) There were 16 reported burglaries in October of ’04, and 62 for the not-quite-done October ’05. Many of this month’s reports are of occupied homes at night, which is the sort of crime that easily escalates into assault or murder.

Rolling Stones Bomb Threat

Tonight’s Stones concert at Scott Stadium was abruptly halted shortly after it began, after a bomb threat was called in. The Daily Progress was the first to report this, via their Stones show quasi-blog, writing:

Mick Jagger announced that the band had been told by authorities they needed to take a 10-minute break because of a technical problem.

Afterward, several police officers appeared on stage with dogs.

Several thousand people seated on the field were evacuated, and the dogs sniffed around the stage and the field in front of the stage.

On their 11pm broadcast, NBC 29 reported that it wasn’t until an hour later that the show started again; clearly, the problems were not technical in nature. Bomb threats became a nasty habit at UVa in 2002, but hadn’t been an issue for the past few years. The Stones intend to play a full show, despite, planning to wrap up shortly after midnight.

White Powder at County Court

That most deadly of all weapons — some white powdery stuff — was found in an envelope received at the Albemarle General District Court this morning. Government panic ensued, complete with hazmat units, a decontamination tent, quarantine, and closure of the courthouse until tomorrow afternoon. The media have been assured that no symptoms have been displayed by those affected, though when asked symptoms of what, no answer was forthcoming. There’s no word yet on whether it’s flour or laundry detergent, or something really exotic, like baking soda. WINA has the story.

7:45pm Update: Kate Andrews has filed a story for the Progress:

The powder tested negative for anthrax and is a “food-based particle,” officials said. They declined to elaborate further.

[…]

Members of the Charlottesville-Albemarle hazardous material team entered the courthouse wearing white suits, bright green gloves and orange boots as six quarantined clerks were decontaminated in a shower tent set up in front of the building.

[…]

Court will be open Thursday.

Racial Incidents at U.Va.

Hello Charlottesville — I’m Cari, and it is an honor to be blogging for you.

I don’t want all of my guest posts to be about U.Va. but I did want to write about recent racial incidents that have occurred here. As many of you know, black students have reported a number of racist threats since the beginning of the semester, including several comments shouted from cars and a racist epithet found on a student’s door. There have also been reported threats against a gay student.

beta bridgeThis week, racist graffiti was discovered on Beta Bridge, a bridge that students traditionally repaint to celebrate events and student groups. A summary from Student Council President Jequeatta Upton:

On the Kappa side there were the words:

“G-Society”
“G-Wizard”
and
“G-Bug”

There were also pictures of a red eye, breasts, and a woman in a
spread-eagle pose. Along with the picture of the breasts was a message
that read: “Bitch/Tits… In The House.”

On the B.U.C.K.S. side was a painting of a bloody face and the message
“We’ll Be Back.”

In response, students held a rally to condemn these incidents, and President Casteen issued a statement to the community. A march to the lawn is scheduled for tomorrow, and some groups have suggested wearing black t-shirts to this weekend’s football game.

My impression is that while there is a great deal of concern among students, nobody really knows what to do about these incidents and the racial tensions on grounds. Student groups have held a number of symbolic protests, but these events are attended by a core group of activists and derided as ineffective by many others. Education efforts are also a hard sell, since no one believes she needs a lesson in diversity.

Students have offered a number of suggestions that the administration should consider, such as addressing student safety concerns with additional lighting, security cameras, and a better system for reporting these incidents. But no one really knows how to stop the people who are depraved and cowardly enough to yell racist threats from moving cars.

However, we can address the damage that these incidents inflict on the community. While the vast majority of U.Va. students are quick to condemn racism, students who have not been directly targeted don’t seem to grasp the effect that these incidents have on members of the targeted communities. There is a lot of resistance to education from students who don’t see a problem beyond these isolated incidents. But students have been made to feel threatened and humiliated in a place where they should feel welcome and safe, and we need to take their feelings seriously.

Some have suggested that those responsible are not from U.Va. but rather from the surrounding areas — something students might like to believe is true — but no matter who is responsible, these incidents should concern both the University and the surrounding area, since anyone who would target our students is a surely a threat to the larger community as well.

In the U.Va. blogosphere, my friends Blake and The Red Stater have posted their own commentary about these incidents and recent discussion.