- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2020

Authorities in Oakland, California, are plowing through with a hate crime investigation after several alleged “nooses” found in a park turned out to be foot swings, according to the black man who says he put them there.

Mayor Libby Schaaf said Wednesday that the intentions behind the roughly five ropes found hanging around Lake Merritt “don’t matter” in light of the current racial climate.

“We have to start with the assumption that these are hate crimes,” Ms. Schaaf said during a press conference. “The intentions do not matter, because the harm is real. 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.”

The mayor’s comments came after the Oakland Police Department told HuffPo that “several community members” came forward to say the ropes were being used as play and exercise equipment.

Victor Sengbe, a black Oakland resident who said he put the ropes there months ago, said they were being used as makeshift foot swings.

“Out of the dozens and hundreds and thousands of people that have walked by, no one has thought that it looked any way close to a noose,” Mr. Sengbe told NBC Bay Area.

In a statement earlier Wednesday, Ms. Schaaf said the reports that the ropes were used as exercise equipment “do not remove or excuse their torturous and terrifying effects.”

“We are all responsible for knowing the history and present day reality of lynchings, hate crimes and racial violence,” she said. “Objects that invoke such terror will not be tolerated in Oakland’s public spaces.”

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