A noose was discovered in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Southeast Washington on Thursday, prompting shock and anger from the mayor and residents still on edge after two other nooses were discovered in the city within the past week.
Workers found the noose hanging from a house under construction on a residential street at about 5 p.m. Thursday, D.C. police said. The location on 36th Place is across the street from Beers Elementary School.
Police canvassed the largely African American neighborhood east of the Anacostia on Saturday looking for clues, and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) told a community meeting that she was confident the perpetrator would be caught and city residents would not be intimidated.
“Who would have thought in 2017 that I would be talking to you about a noose in an African American history museum or a noose in Hillcrest?” Bowser asked the crowd of about 100 who gathered at the Hillcrest Recreation Center on Saturday. “Unfortunately over the last year, we have seen a rise in both hateful speech, hateful rhetoric and real hate crimes.”
D.C. Police Commander David Taylor said he has no evidence at this point linking the noose found in Hillcrest to one discovered in an exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the Mall on Wednesday and another found hanging from a tree on the Southwest grounds of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on May 27.
Authorities are also investigating a length of rope found at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Friday afternoon and fake Immigration and Customs Enforcement fliers scattered across the city Thursday that warned against offering aid to immigrants here illegally.
No arrests have been made and no one has claimed responsibility for any of the incidents.
After the meeting at the recreation center, residents from the neighborhood expressed anger about the noose. Ayanna Smith said her child attends Beers Elementary and she worried about her and other children’s safety.
Smith told Bowser that if the school had outdoor security cameras installed as was planned the devices might have captured footage of the perpetrator.
“I’m outraged,” Smith said of the noose after the meeting. “There’s no other word you can use. I’m not scared and I’m not intimidated, but I took it as a threat to our community.”
Tammie Hawkins, who lives near the home where the noose was found, said her 13-year-old daughter called her from school Friday and asked her to pick her up. Hawkins said the girl was afraid to walk down the street to the bus stop after the noose incident.
Hawkins said she spent part of Friday going door-to-door in her neighborhood talking with residents about what happened and trying to build a sense of community, saying it was a time for people to come together.
“It’s still so unbelievable,” Hawkins said. “That’s not something that happens in Washington, D.C.”
Hawkins said the noose in Hillcrest was found dangling from a beam on the front porch of the single-family home, which is unoccupied. The block is quiet and backs up to a wooded area.
Taylor, the police commander, said the noose was probably hung some time after construction workers left the home on May 31 and when it was discovered on the evening of June 1. He asked residents in the area to check security cameras to see whether footage of the perpetrator was captured.
Taylor said he has not received reports of any other hate-related incidents in the Hillcrest area in recent weeks.
“It’s a highly unusual incident for this area,” Taylor said.
Bowser said she has called on the city’s Office of Human Rights to activate its hate crime protocol and the Office of Religious Affairs to engage local religious leaders as a resource for the community.
Bias-related crimes increased from 66 to 107 in the District from 2015 to 2016, according to police data. Through April of this year, there have been 40 such incidents in the city, an even faster pace than 2016.
“We want to send a very powerful message that we won’t tolerate this type of activity in this city,” Bowser said.