FBI to Investigate Nooses Hanging in a California Park as a Hate Crime

Lake Merritt in Oakland, Ca.
Lake Merritt in Oakland, Ca.
Photo: Shutterstock

Over the last week a disturbing pattern has emerged of black men being found hanged in trees. As a result, a series of nooses found in an Oakland park are being investigated as a hate crime.

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CNN reports that five nooses were found at Lake Merritt and have since been removed. The nooses were discovered by Porchia Freeman while she was on a walk around the lake. When she saw ropes hanging from a tree she went to take a closer look and quickly realized what they were. She then posted a video on Facebook showing the nooses. “I posted it because it was very disturbing to me and I thought I’d bring awareness to the situation,” Freeman said on Facebook Live.

“Symbols of racial violence have no place in Oakland and will not be tolerated,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said on Twitter. After the nooses were posted online a man reached out to Freeman saying that he placed the ropes around the park for exercise. “Reports that these were part of exercise equipment do not remove nor excuse their torturous and terrorizing effects. We are all responsible for knowing the history and present day reality of lynchings, hate crimes and racial violence. Objects that invoke such terror will not be tolerated in Oakland’s public spaces.” Schaaf said in a statement posted to Twitter.

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The Oakland Police Department has given all evidence over to the FBI who will investigate the matter as a hate crime. “We have to start with the assumption that these are hate crimes. We cannot take these actions lightly, we have to take them seriously.” Schaaf said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Over the last week, The Root has reported on the deaths of Robert Fuller and Malcolm Hirsch. The bodies of both men were found hanging from a tree in the California cities of Palmdale and Victorville, respectively. Both deaths were initially ruled as suicides by medical examiners before they decided to reinvestigate those cases. The FBI is monitoring now monitoring those investigations.

Jr Staff Writer @TheRoot. Watcher of wrestling, player of video games. Mr. Steal Your Disney+ Password.

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DISCUSSION

So. Is Victor Sengbe going to be charged with a hate crime? It was reported all day yesterday that these were hung as exercise equipment and it was barely mentioned. Since the Mayor says that his intentions don’t matter should he be investigated? Should his employer fire him?

There are enough real demonstrations of pure hate in this world. Let’s not waste resources on investigating this. By all means talk about the traumatizing effect that ropes in trees have on black people but it seems like Mayor Schaff after being presented with the facts still wants to milk this in the media as a hate crime. Not only is it disingenuous but it gives fodder to everyone who wants to minimize expressions of hate as just a misunderstanding.