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Elected officials condemn alleged hate crime and police inaction following discovery of nooses in Van Cortlandt Park

Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Congressional Candidate Jamaal Bowman. (Photo by Jason Cohen)

On Monday afternoon, grassroots organization North Bronx Racial Justice held a press conference in response to nooses found in Van Cortlandt Park and the lack of appropriate action and investigation on the city’s part.

According to reports, Bronx residents claimed to have seen three nooses in Van Cortlandt Park on the eve of Juneteenth. The reports indicated that instead of investigating these discoveries, the NYPD and Parks Department offered alternative theories about what the strings could be.

According to Gothamist, Rafael Pena and Alexandra Haridopolos told the 50th Precinct about the nooses they witnessed on June 18. The NYPD claimed it was a nylon string that is often used to hang piñatas from a tree branch. Upon further investigation, it was determined that there was a party at the location earlier and the incident was not deemed a hate crime.

This comes on the heels of the discovery of a noose in Marcus Garvey Park in Manhattan, which the NYPD also claimed was for construction.

Meanwhile, the Parks Department’s investigation came to a different conclusion. It found that the ropes were part of an active construction site that was breached in Van Cortlandt Park. The ropes, which have been removed at this time, were used to hold tree branches together to protect them from the construction-related work.

“There is no room for symbols of hatred and racial bias in our parks, and we take all reports of such seriously,” said a Parks spokesman. “The recent finding of ropes in Van Cortlandt Park was concerning and we immediately began an investigation after it was brought to our attention.”

Jennifer Scarlott, coordinator North Bronx Racial Justice, expressed anger regarding police response and said that they didn’t seem to be taking the matter seriously. She questioned how they determined the string was from a party without properly investigating.

Jamaal Bowman and Senator Alessandra Biaggi, who spoke at the Monday press conference, were outraged and said racism and anti-Semitism will not be tolerated anywhere.

“We will not be intimidated,” Bowman said.

Bowman told the attendees that hanging a noose often starts with a lack of education. Children need to know that doing that is wrong and racist.

“Racism and violent acts against people of color in our community has no place in the Bronx, New York, in this nation or in the world, “Biaggi added. “We will not stand for this. Nooses in this community should not be taken lightly.”

One person who was horrified to learn of the noose was Northwest Bronx resident Keira Lapsley.

“I feel appalled. I’m a Black mom with a Black son and a Black daughter,” she said. “It’s very disturbing.”

Elected officials Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Councilman Andrew Cohen and Congressman Eliot Engel also released a statement on the incident.

“Regardless of whether the rope that was left in the park was intended to be a hateful symbol, we unequivocally denounce hatred and intimidation in all forms,” the statement said. “Our beloved park has always been a home for our community to promote love and acceptance, most recently serving as the site of peaceful protests against racial violence. The location where the rope was found is a common gathering site for family parties, and we cannot allow it to be taken over by fear and racism. This incident must be thoroughly investigated and treated with the seriousness that it demands, and our community should remain vigilant against future incidents that sow fear in our neighbors.”

This story first appeared on bxtimes.com.

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