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Another hoax: Third UVA hate crime falls apart in past year

Police chief said noose ‘certainly’ ‘racially motivated’

A noose left on a statue of the poet Homer at the University of Virginia was not part of a racist hate crime, according to the attorney for the white male who pled guilty to the crime. It is the third UVA hate crime debunked in the last year.

Shane Dennis’ action “was not a racially motivated hate crime, as many initially feared, and…Mr. Dennis simply never harbored any racially motivated intent of any kind,” Justin Corder told The Daily Progress.

“Instead, Mr. Dennis intended to protest what he considered to be an extremely problematic public [statue] glorifying the abuse and sexualization of children,” the attorney wrote.

The veteran (pictured) appears to have mental health problems.

“As part of his pretrial release, Dennis, a military veteran, was ordered to initiate and maintain mental health treatment through the Department of Veterans Affairs,” The Daily Progress reported.

“Dennis returned to Albemarle County General District Court on Aug. 3…to plead no contest to a count of disorderly conduct,” the local newspaper reported. “He received a six-month sentence with all jail time suspended and ordered to remain on good behavior for a year.”

“The statue, officially called ‘Blind Homer and his Student Guide,’ depicts the author of the ‘Iliad’ and the ‘Odyssey’ with a young Egyptian assistant at his feet — something Dennis’ counsel said his client found ‘extremely problematic,’” according to the newspaper.

Campus police chief Timothy Longo quickly labeled the noose, found on the statue of a Greek poet, a “hate crime” in September 2022, as reported by The Cavalier Daily. On September 22, 2022, Longo said it “certainly” was a hate crime.

“The facts available indicate that this was an act intended to intimidate members of this community,” President Jim Ryan said the day after the discovery of the noose.

“The noose is a symbol of hatred and brutality toward the Black community,” the Black Student Alliance stated on September 8, 2022.

Other hate crimes have also fallen apart from the same time period.

A rock thrown through the windows of the campus Black Cultural Center in early September came from a black female in a hijab, according to police documents obtained by The College Fix via an open records request.

The Daily Progress left out the race information and reported the suspect was “later apprehended and charged with vandalism but cleared of committing a racist hate crime.”

Also in September 2022, “a check for $888.88 was found at the school’s Memorial to Enslaved Laborers,” which caused more fear of a hate crime. But the check was “later revealed to be an actual donation left by a UVa alumnus who is a member of Wise Investment Philanthropy, a group which completes ‘random acts of kindness,’” the newspaper reported.

“[The three] incidents are not linked, and two of the three were not racially motivated at all,” Executive Vice President Jennifer Davis and Chief Longo, stated on September 22, 2022. “The one that certainly appears to be — namely the noose around the Homer statue — remains under active investigation, and below we will share an update on that investigation.”

The announcement at that time left out the details of the race of the Black Cultural Center culprit, later revealed to be Zaynab Bintabdul-Hadijakien.

MORE: 13 campus hate crime hoaxes in 2022-23 school year

IMAGE: Philip Larson/Flickr; CBS 19

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.