Nooses, Potent Symbols of Hate, Crop Up in Rash of Cases

In Racism, Violence and Hate On
- Updated

Advocacy groups that track hate crimes say the rash of noose cases is part of an uptick in such crimes, fueled by the coarsening of public conversation that began during last year’s presidential campaign and that has continued amid bitter divisions over the election outcome.

“We are in a moment right now where we certainly have not only heightened awareness, but a greater frequency of hate incidents,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League. He called the surge in noose episodes “really alarming.”

The hangman’s rope has been used for centuries to execute people, but became a particular object of racial terror in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when 4,700 people — mostly men but also women and children — were hanged from trees, telephone poles and bridges across the nation, according to Jack Shuler, the author of “The Thirteenth Turn: A History of the Noose.” Roughly three-quarters were African-American.

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