Man charged after incident with Longwood College Republicans

Published 3:16 pm Monday, November 2, 2020

A man has been charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and banned from the Longwood University campus after an alleged incident where two members of the Longwood College Republicans were sprayed with an unknown substance while campaigning for President Donald Trump Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Longwood University Vice President of Communications Matt McWilliams said the man charged, Cedric J. Hensley, is not a student at the university. McWilliams said Longwood’s investigation is complete and is now in the hands of the Commonwealth Attorney.

The College Republican Executive Board issued a statement concerning the incident on Facebook.

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“They in no way provoked the attackers and did not reciprocate the violence they were shown,” the statement said of the two College Republicans at the table. “Our organization is deeply saddened that we were unable to publicly support our political candidate without fear of threats and attacks.”

The statement said a group of protestors gathered on Brock Commons to protest the table supporting Trump near the end of the event.

“The group of protestors proceeded to shout obscenities at our members,” the statement said. “At no point did any of our members use any vulgar language or threaten any of the protestors. Our members tried to engage in a respectful conversation but were ultimately met with disdain and hatred.”

The group asked Longwood University to address the situation and help to promote diversity of thought on the campus.

“The College Republicans of Longwood University respect that not everyone will share our political views,” the statement read. “We believe everyone should be encouraged to voice their opinions because it is our right and privilege to do so. We do not believe that anyone, regardless of political views, should be threatened or harassed for exercising their First Amendment. We are appalled by the harassment and treatment we received on Longwood’s campus. We ask Longwood University to address the situation and help us promote diversity of thought on our campus to ensure the disgraceful treatment we received today (Tuesday, Oct. 27) does not happen to anyone on this campus again.”

Tim Pierson, Longwood’s vice president for student affairs, sent an email to the Longwood community in response to the incident.

“This election is very contentious, with much at stake and unusual uncertainty. In these coming days both before and after Election Day we may find ourselves part of challenging conversations with fellow Lancers who hold different views,” part of the email from Pierson said. “Whatever the outcome, after the election is decided, some members of our community will be experiencing happiness and relief, and others disappointment, anger and even fear.

“But whatever the outcome, we will all still be part of this community — living and learning together. So we will always be at our best when we respect the rights of others to share their views — even when we cannot agree, or take real offense, or feel compelled after listening to answer back with our own. The diversity of backgrounds and perspectives we find in one another is ultimately a great source of strength.”