The American University campus in D.C. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Bananas were found hanging from string “in the shape of nooses” on the campus of American University in what the school described Monday as a “racist incident” that is under investigation.

The bananas were found at three locations at the private university in Washington, according to the statement from Fanta Aw, AU’s interim vice president of campus life. Aw said the fruit had been “marked with the letters AKA.” Those are the letters of the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, whose membership is predominantly African American.

“These racist, hateful messages have no place in our community,” the statement said. “The safety of our students is paramount.”

Camille Lepre, AU’s assistant vice president of communications, said in an email to The Post that the bananas were discovered early Monday at a shuttle bus stop, in front of the Mary Graydon Center, and near another building.

“We have initiated efforts on multiple fronts to investigate the incidents, inform and support our community, and condemn the act,” she wrote.

The university’s Department of Public Safety is investigating. Lepre said in her email that officials were reviewing video footage, in an attempt to help them identify suspects.

“This is the last day of classes and tomorrow is a study day, in preparation for finals,” Lepre wrote. “We are mindful of the need to help the community deal with this in a constructive manner, and to minimize disruption during finals.”

The statement from the university, which has about 13,000 students, noted that it would have “more to share about this incident shortly.”

“We will be communicating further with our community over the next 24 hours,” Lepre said in her email to The Post.

This is not the first racially charged incident at AU in recent months. In September, a black student at the university reported that a banana was thrown at her in a dormitory. Two male students, who were white, were investigated in connection with that incident. The same night, another black student discovered a rotten banana outside her dorm room door.

Hundreds of students later gathered for a demonstration on campus, rallying outside the university’s student center.

In  statement posted online Monday, Taylor Dumpson, AU Student Government president, referenced previous racial unrest at American, writing that was “disheartening and immensely frustrating that we are still dealing with this issue after recent conversations, dialogues, and town halls surrounding race relations on campus.”

“As the first black woman AUSG president, I implore all of us to unite in solidarity with those impacted by this situation and we must remember that ‘if there is no struggle, there is no progress’ – Frederick Douglass,” she wrote. “We must use this time to reflect on what we value as a community and we must show those in the community that bigotry, hate, and racism cannot and will not be tolerated. ”

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