Indian Americans in Charlottesville, Virginia are freaking out after violence broke out during a white supremists march on Saturday, Aug. 12, which left three people dead.
“It’s still difficult for us to understand and grapple with the reality that such a thing has happened. This is not what the city is about,” Sankaran Venkataraman, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Research, MasterCard, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, told PTI. “(The violence) doesn’t represent any of the views or characters of the people here. We are progressive people who believe in diversity and inclusiveness. For something like this to happen is a shock to us. The notions of racism, hatred, bigotry are completely antithetical to the views of most citizens of Charlottesville,” he added. The University of Virginia is set to reopen up in two weeks following the summer break.
Venkataraman, who has been living in the city for 20 years said that his daughter’s friend had gone to the downtown area to take part in the counter protest to the white supremacist rally and she returned home with a broken leg.
Vilas Annavarapu, an Indian-American and student of political science and an office-bearer of the Indian Student Association at the university, was among the few who stayed back at the campus to attend training classes during the summer.
While he did not leave the campus on Saturday, Annavarapu told PTI he had a scary encounter with white supremacists on Friday night when hundreds of them had a surprise rally inside the campus.
“It was frightening. Frustration, I think, would be an accurate word to describe the general sentiment. From an intellectual standpoint, I’ve always understood that being a person of color, I will have to be more careful when I walk down the streets. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt as threatened as I have over these past two days,” Annavarapu told PTI.
“It’s not like these views are anything new, it’s just that now people feel as if they have the authority to come into public and wave them around, as if they’re not doing anything wrong. I understand that they have free speech, but that doesn’t give them the right to incite violence,” Annavarapu was reporting saying.
The PTI report also said that the protesters were openly carrying guns, including AK- 47s.