An Asian-American homeowner said that a Black contractor she hired to renovate her home reported that a noose was hanging from a tree in her yard.
Julia Ho has owned the home for nearly five years and was out of town when the incident happened, according to St. Louis Public Radio. The contractor contacted the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department immediately after finding the noose. An investigation is ongoing.
“My first reaction, my first emotion was really just rage that somebody would do this,” Ho said. “This was no sort of amateur thing. This was clearly done by somebody who knew how to do it, and who knew exactly what message they were sending.”
The community rallied around her to offer support by meeting in front of a local cafe to amplify the racist incident.
“I want to know what people in my neighborhood think about this, and the best way to do that is to talk to them,” Ho said. “That being said, I don’t feel safe going alone, it is very high likelihood that whoever did this is in my immediate vicinity. So it’s not something that I can just go and do on my own and I really need the community to be out there and to support me with it.”
Alderman Dan Guenther, D-9th Ward, said he is working with law enforcement to find the perpetrator and is very upset that this happened.
“The Neighborhood Stabilization Officer and I have been working closely with our 3rd District Captain, Detectives and the FBI to investigate this event as a hate crime,” Guenther said in a statement. “We will continue to seek out area surveillance cameras, talk with neighbors, and find witnesses that may lead us to identifying those responsible for this hideous act.”
Here is more on the story from St. Louis Public Radio:
Neighbors said they were shocked to hear about the incident.
“I wouldn’t expect it, especially over here,” said Max Trumper, a white Lemp Avenue resident who has lived in the neighborhood for about a year. “It seems like a pretty diverse neighborhood, I wouldn’t think that you’d see stuff like that over here.”
Many said they’ve never witnessed racist acts take place in the area.
“If I had any problems or concerns, I would’ve been left,” said Kim Williams, a Black woman who also lives on Lemp Avenue. “Whatever’s going on, I hope they solve it.”
Guenther said the community and white allies of people of color must come together to denounce racism.
“This incident draws attention to the fact that, as allies, we need to do more to live our lives in a way where everyone feels supported and welcomed, where those historically excluded now might feel the full strength of our defense,” Guenther said.
Ho said she’s experienced an outpouring of support from people in the community. But she said while she never expected to see something so vile, she wasn’t surprised. She said racist language has been directed at her before and she’s seen how racism hurts Black St. Louisans.
“What is it that people are doing, especially people who have Black Lives Matter signs in their yard or think of themselves as progressive individuals that live in a neighborhood that is beyond this type of incident,” she said. “What are they willing to do or to change, about their behavior or about the neighborhood in order to make sure that this never happens again?
Racist attacks against Asian-Americans are on the rise across the U.S. Some 9,081 anti-Asian incidents have taken place since March of 2020, according to the coalition Stop AAPI Hate; At least 50 nooses have been found at various construction sites around the United States.
It is not clear whether the perpetrator was targeting Ho or the Black contractor. For Ho, it doesn’t matter.
“If you come for all of us, if you come for one of us, you come for all of us,” Ho said. “As an Asian woman who has seen and really experienced and felt the rise in hate crimes and hateful energy towards Asian people over the last two years, I just felt like it was really important to not let this be swept under the rug.”