Nooses hanging from trees in California investigated as hate crime

City’s mayor says ‘We have got to stop terrorising our black and brown citizens’

Zach Braff says 'It's not enough to say 'I have a black friend''

Authorities in California have launched an investigation into a suspected hate crime after nooses were hung at a public park.

The nooses were located around Lake Merritt, Oakland, late on Tuesday and have since been removed.

“Symbols of racial violence have no place in Oakland and will not be tolerated,” said Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf in a statement. “We are all responsible for knowing the history and present day reality of lynchings, hate crimes and racial violence.”

She added: ”Objects that invoke such terror will not be tolerated in Oakland’s public spaces.”

An Oakland Police Department spokesperson told USA TODAY that several community members had used some ropes as exercise equipment.

But “some of it absolutely was not” exercise equipment, added Oakland parks and recreation director Nicholas Williams on Wednesday.

“These symbols are symbols of racial violence and it is incumbent on all of us to have that sensitivity, to have that knowledge,” Ms Schaff said.

“What a privilege for those of us that don’t feel complete fear and terror when we see a rope in a tree,” added the mayor. “We have got to stop terrorising our black and brown citizens and as white people, we have to become knowledgable and educated about the impact of our actions, whether they are well-intentioned or not.”

Oakland police have since informed the FBI about the incident, which comes after two black men were hung to death in southern California between 31 May and 10 June.

Investigations are ongoing into the two hangings, which took place amid nationwide protests against institutionalised racism and police brutality after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody on 25 May.

Oakland’s mayor added on Wednesday that the nooses were hung whilst Steven Carrillo, an ex-US air force sergeant with white supremacist ties, was charged with murdering a 53-year-old federal officer Dave Patrick Underwood outside an Oakland courthouse during protests.

“The fact that we had an extremist charged with the murder of Patrick Underwood, an extremist group, the boogaloos, that is trying to ferment a race war, we have to see this moment for what it is, a reckoning,” said Ms Schaaf. “And in Oakland, we cannot further terrorise or traumatize our black residents.”

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