On Wednesday, Democrat Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said “several nooses” that were found in a park have been removed and a hate crime investigation is underway that includes the FBI.
Local Black Citizen Said the Supposed ‘Noose’ was Exercise Equipment He Put There
However, the Associated Press is reporting that African American Victor Sengbe has said that he put the ropes there months ago with the help of some friends to build a swing system for exercising.
“Out of the dozen and hundreds and thousands of people that walked by, no one has thought that it looked anywhere close to a noose. Folks have used it for exercise. It was really a fun addition to the park that we tried to create,” Sengbe said. “It’s unfortunate that a genuine gesture of just wanting to have a good time got misinterpreted into something so heinous.”
Victor Sengbe of #Oakland says the nooses found in #LakeMerritt were not a symbol of hate. He says the nooses were used to attach a makeshift swing. “It’s unfortunate that a genuine gesture of just wanting to create a good time got misinterpreted.” @nbcbayarea pic.twitter.com/7vutrZYDHu
— Melissa Colorado (@melissacolorado) June 17, 2020
Mayor Apparently Doesn’t Care if It Wasn’t Actually a Noose
Sengbe’s statement apparently did not faze Mayor Scaaf, who released a statement that said it did not matter if the ropes were part of exercise equipment because that does “not remove nor excuse their torturous and terrorizing effects.”
“Symbols of racial violence have no place in Oakland and will not be tolerated,” the mayor’s statement read.
“Several nooses found on trees around Lake Merritt were removed and will be investigated as hate crimes,” the statement continued. “Reports that these were part of exercise equipment do not remove nor excuse their torturous and terrorizing effects.”
Earlier this morning, we removed a human effigy hung from a tree at Lake Merritt — a deliberate and vile attempt to traumatize and divide Oaklanders. We immediately engaged the FBI to investigate this heinous act for what it clearly is — a hate crime. pic.twitter.com/rsGk9zeSd9
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) June 18, 2020
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Schaaf: ‘We have to start with the assumption that these are hate crimes’
“We are all responsible for knowing the history and present day reality of lynchings, hate crimes and racial violence,” the statement declared. “Objects that invoke such terror will not be tolerated in Oakland’s public spaces.”
Schaaf made similar statements at a later news conference.
“The Oakland Police Department has turned over the evidence to the FBI. We have to start with the assumption that these are hate crimes,” Schaaf said. “We cannot take these actions lightly.”
“These symbols are symbols of racial violence and it’s incumbent on all of us to have that sensitivity, to have that knowledge and that is why I have directed our staff to remove any such symbol of hatred, regardless of the intention of what put it there,” she said.
Intentions do not matter. We will not tolerate symbols of hate in our city. The nooses found at Lake Merritt will be investigated as hate crimes. pic.twitter.com/B1f1SwZ4tK
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) June 18, 2020
“What a privilege for those of us that don’t feel complete fear and terror when we see a rope in a tree, that is a privilege that so many of our African American residents do not enjoy,” Schaaf continued.
She added, “You see an overwhelming amount of, of anguish, of rage, of fatigue, of grief, and yes, the fact that we had an extremist charged with the murder of Patrick Underwood, an extremist group, the Boogaloos, that is trying to foment a race war, we have to see this moment for what it is: a reckoning.”
Oakland mayor @LibbySchaaf says ropes found hanging from trees in a city park are nooses & symbols of terror. She directed a hate crime investigation. But a resident, who is black, has come forward to say the ropes were his exercise equipment. #HateHoax https://t.co/klXTLIWyuU
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) June 19, 2020
“And in Oakland, we cannot further terrorize or traumatize our black residents and yes, the incidents of the last few weeks, but frankly of the last few centuries, is the backdrop upon which we have to make these decisions today,” Schaaf said.
“Enough is enough. And again, the intentions do not matter, because the harm is real,” Schaff concluded. “They will matter with regard to whether or not this is in fact charged as a hate crime, but they do not matter about whether or not we should tolerate symbols of hate and violence and torture in our public spaces.”
“They do not have a place here in Oakland,” she finished.
A noose is a symbol of hate. It is also an explicit threat of violence against Black people to stop us from fighting white supremacy or advocating for equality. We will not be intimidated. https://t.co/rQIgmpSEi3
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) June 17, 2020
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