The University of Virginia Police Department is trying to identify a person caught on video late on Sept. 7 in connection with a noose left around the neck of Lawn’s Homer statue.
Sometime around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, someone hung a noose around the statue, which anchors one end of the Lawn near Old Cabell Hall. The incident was later discovered by a UVa Grounds Security officer shortly after 4 a.m. on Thursday morning.
UVa police released photographs of the man, possibly in his 20s, wearing a dark-colored jacket, jeans and dark-colored shoes. Surveillance camera footage show someone climbing the Homer statue, placing the noose around its neck, and walking away from the area Wednesday night.
“Investigators believe that the person depicted in this photo may have information regarding this incident,” said Sgt. Ben Rexrode, of the university police. “Anyone with information regarding the identity of this person or any information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact university police at (434) 924-7166.”
Virginia Code makes the public placement of a noose intending to intimidate a low-grade felony. Virginia law also deems it illegal to display a noose in public at all. Because the suspect has not been identified yet, UVa officials have not yet determined how the suspect will be disciplined once they are caught, UVa spokesperson Brian Coy has said.
Virginia Code defines a hate crime as a criminal act, illegal act or any other incident directed against people or property and “intended to intimidate or harass any individual or group” because of their membership in a protected category. Such categories include race, religion, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation or ethnic or national origin.
A noose is widely recognized as a symbol of white supremacy and racist intimidation, a weapon commonly used to lynch Black people throughout American history.
The university may also have internal rules for students banning acts of intimidation, but officials still do not know whether the perpetrator is a student.
Homer’s statue is a prominent part of the Lawn and is often climbed upon by students and is the center of a variety of traditions. Among those are Lawn streaks in which students run naked from the Rotunda to Homer and then around the statue three times. They then kiss its behind and run back to the Rotunda.