Frat party shut down for theme of ‘cops and robbers’

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Charlottesville — At the University of Virginia (UVa), a fraternity that hosted a “cops and robbers” party on Thursday was shut down by protesters who said the event mocked mass incarceration. Members of the fraternity were not impressed and called the real police, accusing the protesters of trespassing.

Delta Psi’s frat house held a party Thursday night that invited partygoers to wear themed “cops and robbers” attire, according to The Cavalier Daily, the campus’s independent newspaper. They were criticized by some students on social media, who felt that the party encouraged “racist conduct” because it “made a joke of systems that kill and brutalize marginalized communities.”

The student group that protested the event, UVa. Students United (USU), described itself on Facebook as “a coalition of students from around the university community taking direct action and organizing for a more accessible, democratic and inclusive UVa.”

“Last night, a group of about twenty or so students shut down a ‘cops and robbers’ themed date function at the Hall, a fraternity on campus. This came after about an hour of confrontation between the students and party-goers, culminating in the frat calling the police on the students, on the grounds of trespassing. The predominantly white members of this fraternity got to take their costumes off at the end of the night, people trapped in the prison system do not.”

According to the USU, frat members were wearing orange jumpsuits, bandannas, and chains, and drew tattoos on themselves. Meanwhile, female partygoers wore “sexy cop” costumes.

“Historically, the police have justified violence against people of color in the name of protecting white women, and in wearing these costumes, these women made a joke of that legacy of violence,” the group wrote.

Henry Crochiere, the Inter-Fraternity Council president and a fourth-year college student, described the timeline of Thursday night’s events to The Cavalier Daily:

“The Inter-Fraternity Council was first notified of this when I received a call around 11 p.m. from the President of Delta Psi asking for help to deescalate the situation. I was right next door so I arrived soon after,” Crochiere said. “A group of protesters were in the front yard requesting that the private date function be shut down due to the insensitive ‘cops and robbers’ theme of the party. After trying to have a dialogue between the fraternity members and the protestors, it was determined that it would be best to call the police to help facilitate conversation and make sure there was order.”

The USU also brought up the violent protests in the same city in mid-August. The protest turned deadly when a woman protesting white supremacy was hit by a car that purposely targeted the crowd in which she stood. Varying groups, including white supremacists, had gathered in the city to demonstrate against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from Lee Park in Charlottesville.

“After a summer of terror and violence instigated by white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, it’s at the very least disappointing that members of the UVA community would be so willing to make a joke of systems that kill and brutalize marginalized communities,” the post concluded.

The lighthearted gathering didn’t mean “to offend or hurt anyone,” by the USU’s own admission in their Facebook post. However, the protesting group felt that the mindset which initiated the theme is “the kind of willful ignorance that allows white supremacy to continue.”

“The Inter-Fraternity Council acknowledges that the theme, while not overtly reprehensible, is potentially offensive to members of the community,” Crochiere said.

“It should be noted that Delta Psi had no intentions to offend anyone, but they should have more foresight to be sensitive to a theme like this especially in light of recent events involving police both in Charlottesville and on the national scale,” he continued. “Moving forward, it would be beneficial for all parties to connect in the coming weeks and have a discussion about last Thursday’s events so we can learn from it.”

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