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Hate Crime or Workout Time? Oakland Authorities Investigating ‘Nooses’ in Trees

The Mayor and local residents did not see eye-to-eye on what was occurring in a city park.

There is no denying that racial tensions are running hot in America today.  There has been a renewed conversation about equality occurring in every nook and cranny of this country in 2020, and, as such, many of us have entered a state of hyper vigilance on issues of race.

In Oakland, California, horrifying reports of “nooses” hanging from trees in a local park sparked concern among residents that white supremacists were attempting to terrorize the city.

Oakland’s mayor said five ropes found hanging from trees in a city park are nooses and racially-charged symbols of terror but a resident said they are merely exercise equipment that he put up there months ago.

Mayor Libby Schaaf said Wedesday that a hate crime investigation was under way after a social media post identified a noose at the city’s popular Lake Merritt. Police said they searched the area on Tuesday and found five ropes attached to trees.

But, according to at least one local resident, there is a major misunderstanding at play here.

Victor Sengbe, who is black, told KGO-TV that the ropes were part of a rigging that he and his friends used as part of a larger swing system. He also shared video of the swing in use.

“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,” he told the station.

The mayor could go on to say that local authorities must err on the side of caution, and work backward from the assumption of terror, rather than from a position of plausible deniability.

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