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Police make arrest in Lawn noose incident

The Homer statue on the Lawn
A noose placed on UVA's Homer statue in early September sparked a hate crime investigation that drew the help of the FBI. Sanjay Suchak

Police have arrested and charged an Albemarle County man in the Sept. 8 hanging of a noose around the neck of the Homer statue on UVA’s South Lawn.

According to a news release, Shane Dennis was arrested Monday, Oct. 24, and charged under the Virginia law prohibiting displaying a noose on public property with the intent to intimidate. Dennis, now barred from Grounds, has no known relationship to UVA.

His arrest came two days after police reported finding more items at the foot of the Homer statue, which they also linked to Dennis. Police reported finding two theatrical masks, a civil peace flag (essentially a U.S. flag but with blue stars on a white background), a Christian cross and a letter tying the statue to pedophilia.

UVA Police released this image, taken from surveillance video, after someone placed a noose on the Homer statue Sept. 7. University of Virginia Police Department

“If you live in reality you will see an old man with a nude adolescent boy in between his legs,” the letter said, according to police. Despite Dennis’ alleged use of a noose, the letter did not contain language of racial animus.

Dennis was being held without bond pending a hearing.

The September noose incident was deemed a hate crime and drew investigative help from the FBI; an anonymous donor helped the police increase to $10,000 the reward for information leading to an arrest.

The incident was one of several on Grounds at the start of the fall semester that caused mounting unease for Black UVA community members. In a note announcing the arrest, UVA President James E. Ryan (Law ’92) said, “We remain committed to ensuring the University of Virginia is a place where all can feel safe in the spaces where they live, learn and work. Although we are relieved that this suspect was apprehended, we will never stop working to ensure that this community is as safe and welcoming as it can be.”