Nooses were found hanging from trees and hate signs posted on the lawn of the Mississippi State Capitol building, on the eve of a U.S. Senate runoff election that has focused attention on the state’s troubled history of race relations.
The nooses and signs were removed after being reported to the Capitol Police.
Officials with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety posted photos of the signs on social media and called on the public to help identify the perpetrators.
Chuck McIntosh, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration, which oversees the Capitol, said the nooses and signs were found starting shortly before 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 26, outside the Capitol in downtown Jackson.
In the early hours of Monday morning, authorities believe several suspects were responsible for posting the signs shown…
تم النشر بواسطة Mississippi Department of Public Safety (Official) في الإثنين، ٢٦ نوفمبر ٢٠١٨
“The perpetrators of this act will be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement released on Monday. “I have contacted the Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for assistance.”
Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who has an office in the Capitol, called the placement of the nooses and signs a “reprehensible” act and said he would “support the resources necessary to find those responsible.”
The matter is under investigation by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, Mississippi Capitol Police, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“With our law enforcement partners, we are actively looking into these acts of hate and intimidation,” U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst said in a statement. “Let me be perfectly clear—there is absolutely no place in our state for these unacceptable symbols or tactics to intimidate others. If we find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that a federal crime has occurred, these criminals will be swiftly prosecuted.”
Hurst added, “Let us all respond to these despicable acts by voting, working, raising our families, practicing our faith, and pursuing the American dream here in our great state without fear or trepidation and in harmony with our fellow citizens.”
The nooses and signs, referring to Mississippi’s history of lynchings and racial violence, were found one day before the runoff between Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy.
Hyde-Smith has drawn fire for a photo showing her wearing a replica hat of a Confederate soldier, and a video showing her praising a supporter by saying, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” She said the hanging remark was an “exaggerated expression of regard” for the supporter and apologized “to anyone that was offended,” adding that there was “no ill will, no intent whatsoever” in her remarks. Hyde-Smith said the comment had been twisted and turned into “a political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent.”
Espy, meanwhile, said on Monday he knew nothing about the nooses or signs, and added it would be “unfair” to make any connection between the items and Hyde-Smith. An election victory would see Espy become the first African-American U.S. senator from Mississippi since Reconstruction.
Hyde-Smith campaign spokeswoman Melissa Scallan condemned the nooses by saying, “Obviously, this behavior is offensive and has no place in a civilized society.”
Bryant commented earlier on Hyde-Smith’s remarks by saying that the real issue was how abortion was creating a Black genocide. “We have been sensitive to race relations in this state,” Bryant said, Think Progress reported. “Today, I talked about the genocide of over 20 million African-American children. See, in my heart, I am confused about where the outrage is at about 20 million African-American children that have been aborted.”
President Donald Trump said he had spoken to Hyde-Smith about the lynching comment and said she felt “very badly.”
“Well, I know her and I know she apologized, and she misspoke,” Trump told reporters on Moday at the White House, according to Politico.
“I’ve known her for a period of time now as senator,” Trump told reporters Monday afternoon. “She’s been an excellent senator. She’s done a great job. She’s somebody that’s respected in the Senate.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.