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NY Post
New York Post
29 Apr 2023

NextImg:BLM activist ruined white University of Virginia student’s rep over ‘misheard’ remark: report

A well-known Black Lives Matter activist allegedly ruined a fellow University of Virginia student’s reputation, accusing her of referring to George Floyd protesters as “speed bumps” and threatening to run them over — only to later admit she may have “misheard” the offending comments, according to a report.

UVA student Zyahna Bryant, then 19, was already a high-profile activist when she encountered fellow student Morgan Bettinger at the July 2020 protest.

What happened next sparked a social media hate campaign in which Bettinger was denounced as a “Nazi;” school investigations; and a bid by Bryant to have Bettinger expelled, according to the outlet Reason Magazine.

Bettinger, the daughter of a police officer, pulled up near a local George Floyd demonstration and found the street blocked by protesters.

A truck driver had parked his vehicle to protect the demonstrators, prompting Bettinger to at one point tell him, “It’s a good thing that you are here, because otherwise, these people would have been speed bumps,” Reason magazine reported.

Bettinger said she meant no harm in the comment.

“I had no interest in walking over to him to speak to him,” she told authorities, according to Reason, “but out of being polite, when he spoke to me I answered.”

The “speed bumps” remark was said in gratitude, Bettinger noted, to thank the driver for guarding the demonstrators, who had taken over a busy street.

The driver later corroborated Bettinger’s remark to local cops.

“Not once did anything from the past, of even the rally, Unite the Right rally, cross my mind,” she said.

“It was simply a comment made to a [dump] truck driver who was sitting and blocking the road, and just saying, like, ‘It’s good you’re here.'”

Zyahna Bryant is a high-profile BLM activist.

Bryant took it quite differently, according to the outlet.

Bettinger, she claimed, was threatening demonstrators, and got in her car and cried after she was confronted.

The incident drew attention after Bryant, a student and social justice activist, took to Twitter.

Her version of what happened was retweeted more than 1,000 times.

“The woman in this truck approached protesters in #Charlottesville, and told us that we would make ‘good speed bumps,'” Bryant wrote.

“She then called the police and started crying saying we were attacking her.”

Bryant also posted videos — not of the alleged “speed bump” comment itself, but of its aftermath.

In the footage, Bettinger backs down the street in her car while Bryant and several other protesters follow.

Bettinger, a UVA student, was accused of saying protesters would "make good speed bumps."

One student on Twitter even called Bettinger a “f–king Nazi.”

“It’s a Karen, it’s a Karen,” Bryant taunted, according to Reason.

The story was picked up by local media and spread like wildfire.

Bettinger was identified online the next morning and was barraged with insults and accusations from UVA students.

One student tweeted that Bettinger was a “f–king Nazi.”

The next day, Bryant began demanding that school administrators expel Bettinger.

BLM activist Zyahna Bryant.
Bryant later admitted she “misheard” the comments.

“EMAIL these UVA deans now to demand that Morgan face consequences for her actions and that UVA stop graduating racists,” she tweeted.

Bryant herself filed a complaint with the University Judiciary Committee, a student-run disciplinary system, alleging Bettinger had threatened students’ health and safety.

Bettinger was the subject of multiple investigations in the months that followed, Reason reported.

“I was completely consumed. My phone did not stop blowing up,” Bettinger told the magazine.

“I didn’t sleep for nights.”

Bettinger is the daughter of a cop.

Bettinger is the daughter of a cop.

A student disciplinary hearing concluded that Bettinger was guilty of making a legal threat against the protesters.

But a second probe found Bryant probably didn’t even hear firsthand what Bettinger uttered, and considered her evidence shaky, according to Reason.

Bettinger eventually graduated from UVA but with a permanent mark on her record, Reason reported.

A photo of UVA student Morgan Bettinger.
Bettinger says her reputation was destroyed by the accusations.

No witnesses corroborated Bryant’s claim that Bettinger derided protesters as “good f–king speed bumps” — even though it happened in front of more than 30 people, according to the outlet, which also reviewed documents previously not made public in the case.

Bryant was a celebrated activist at UVA.

She got national attention after writing a 2016 petition demanding that Charlottesville take down its statue of Robert E. Lee.

By summer 2020, she was on Teen Vogue’s “21 under 21” list, had spoken alongside Bernie Sanders, and had been profiled in such outlets as The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Since the UVA incident, Bryant’s profile has only grown. She was the subject of a positive Washington Post profile in 2021 and was named to Ebony magazine’s “Power 100” list.

Bryant has been the subject of glowing profiles in the Washington Post, among other news outlets.

Neither woman could be reached for comment.

UVA did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

Bettinger said that even though she was ultimately vindicated, the damage has already been done.

She’s planning a lawsuit against the school, Reason reported.

A tweet from the school during the summer of 2020 about the incident.

A tweet from the school during the summer of 2020 about the incident.

“This whole situation has had a huge impact on my life,” Bettinger says.

“The university has never had to answer for what their actions have done.”

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