Hanging Noose Sparks Hate Crime Probe at U.Md.

Published February 11, 2008

Posted Sept. 11, 2007  –  Officials at the University of Maryland expressed both outrage and concern that a noose hung in a tree near the campus cultural center was an apparent attempt to intimidate minority students.

University of Maryland Police said Sunday they are investigating the matter as a hate crime.

In a letter posted on the Maryland Web site and emailed to the campus community, President C.D. "Dan" Mote Jr. said, "The possibility that this act appears intended to bring to mind the horrific crime of lynching, which is such a terrible and tragic part of our nation's past, is particularly abhorrent."

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Ironically, the University of Maryland incident coincides with another, more highly publicized, noose-hanging act further south.  In Jena, La., six Black teens are on trial for a fight with a White student triggered by the hanging of a noose on a tree at the local high school.

At the University of Maryland, both students and staff reported seeing the noose in a tree near the Nyumburu Cultural Center, police spokesman Paul Dillon said. It had been hanging their for at least three days, witnesses said.

The mission of the 30-year-old Nyumburu Cultural Center, which is home to the campus' Black newspaper, the Maryland Gospel Choir and jazz studies, among other programs, is to foster "[B]lack social, cultural and intellectual interaction."

Ronald Zeigler, director of the center, told The Baltimore Sun that "people are disturbed by it, but the police reaction has been very prompt. Keeping a lid between emotions of people on campus – that's the thing to do now." Dillon said there are no suspects in custody, but police are looking into all leads, the Sun reported.

Do you think incidents like this ultimately split races further apart or bring them closer together? Click "Discuss Now," to the right, to post your comment.

Written by BET-Staff

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