U.Va. alumna detained by University Police following demonstration

Masked activists on the Lawn discuss bioterrorism, 'stealth pathogens"


University Police arrested Ashley Banes, a 1999 University graduate, following a demonstration on the south end of the Lawn on Wednesday evening. Banes was wearing a mask and had a number of items scattered on the sidewalk, part of a demonstration to raise awareness about “stealth pathogens.”

Students gathered as Banes spoke to the crowd about public health concerns, the fact that she had graduated from the University, and “bioterrorism.”

“She said that apparently, when she was training for veterinarian school, they taught her to be a first responder in bioterrorism, and then she started talking about this sort of project,” said Nolan Reilly, a second-year in the College who witnessed the event.

A fourth-year College student, who wished to remain anonymous, said she called the non-emergency number for the University police after a second activist arrived in a mask.

“A car drove up on the sidewalk and another man, about her age, wearing a ski mask got out,” she said. “It was kind of unsettling.”

After police arrived on the scene they asked both to remove their masks. The man, who identified himself only as Jibriel, removed his, but Banes refused repeatedly and continued to shout at the crowd that had gathered. Banes was detained by police shortly thereafter.

Jibriel was not detained by officers after he removed his own mask at the request of officers, and continued to speak to students.

“We call ourselves the St. Eligius tribe,” Jibriel said. “We’re coming from Durham, North Carolina. We’re here to raise awareness about stealth pathogens.”

Will Bennett, a fourth-year College student who was present, said the demonstration was bizarre, but he thought there was little concern of safety for onlooking students.

“I never felt like I was in danger, I just thought this was really strange,” Bennett said.

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