Oakland to investigate nooses found in trees as hate crime

Oakland to investigate nooses found in trees as hate crime
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Oakland, Calif., is investigating nooses that were found hanging on trees as a hate crime, Mayor Libby Schaff (D) said Wednesday. 

Schaff said several nooses were found on trees around Lake Merritt and were removed. She said reports that the nooses 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,” Schaff said in a tweeted statement. “Objects that invoke such terror will not be tolerated in Oakland’s public spaces.”

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Oakland resident Porchia Freeman shared a video on Facebook Tuesday after she saw a string hanging from a tree that she identified as a noose at Lake Merritt. 

“I posted it because it was very disturbing to me and I thought I would bring awareness to the situation,” Freeman said in a video posted to Facebook on Wednesday. 

She said she saw a string swinging as she was walking by the lake.

“Apparently the guy who put the rope up there, he said it was for a swing,” Freeman said. “Mind you, I've never seen a swing set that resembles a noose. It looks like a noose, swings like a noose. I thought it was a noose.” 

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During an initial investigation, residents claimed the ropes were used for exercise, CNN reported, citing a press release from the Oakland Police Department. 

"One community member claimed ownership of the ropes and stated that he intentionally placed the ropes on the tree limbs for exercise and games several months ago," police reportedly said in a release. 

Police reportedly said extra patrols have been assigned to Lake Merritt. 

The investigation into the nooses comes after federal authorities said they will review local investigations into the hanging deaths of two black men in Southern California, The Associated Press reported earlier this week. 

The review is over investigations of the deaths of Robert Fuller in Palmdale and Malcolm Harsch in Victorville. 

Los Angeles County officials on Monday walked back a ruling of suicide in Fuller’s death. Fuller, 24, was discovered hanging from a tree last Wednesday, less than two weeks after Harsch, 38, was found dead in a similar manner.