Non-violent protests outside Liberty University result in civil conversations between protesters, campus police

Local News

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — It started with one man kneeling at the entrance of Liberty University, but shortly after, more protesters made their way to his side.

The protests outside Liberty University were due, in part, to tweets made by university president Jerry Falwell, Jr., mocking Gov. Ralph Northam by suggesting the photo in the tweet — a man in blackface next to a man in a Ku Klux Klan costume — from Northam’s college yearbook, be placed on face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shortly after protesters gathered at the entrance, campus police met them, not to push them away but to have a conversation.

“If you arrest somebody, arrest them and give them their day in court, but the brutality behind these things is sickening,” one protester said to campus police.

Marcus Tinsley with Liberty’s Campus Police brought the rest of his officers forward.

“We’re going to come together,” Tinsley said to the crowd before looking back on the other campus policemen, “so intermingle with these people right here.”

Tinsley later prayed over the group.

“Father God in Heaven, we come to you right now, Lord. No protesters, no cops, we come to you as people, as people of God, and we love each and every person here,” Tinsley prayed.

Some in the crowd didn’t take Tinsley’s gesture as genuine.

“If the police really want to help us, they need to go and challenge the system that they’re a part of,” said Vicente Gonzalez, a Lynchburg native.

Gonzalez said it’s going to take more than Tinsley’s prayer to fix what he calls systematic racism in Lynchburg.

“He need to take what he did here today, and take action,” Gonzalez said. “We as a community need to hold him accountable, which is why I say we need to focus on our community.”

The protesters left Liberty just before 8 p.m. because of the curfew, and made their way into Campbell County, where they continued to protest later into the evening.

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