Police on Long Island are seeking help in finding who hung a noose at a senior center, after the chilling discovery was made earlier in October.
The item was found by two seniors outside the North Amityville Senior Center, according to Madeline Quintyne-McConley, the Babylon Human Services Commissioner. It was left hanging on a gazebo.
"Some cried, I cried. I was very shaken, it's hate. It's a hate crime," Quintyne-McConley said. "They said, 'Why? Who would want to do this to us? Who did we bother? Who did we upset?' And I said 'No, it's not you.'"
Suffolk County police agree, and released photos of the noose on Thursday, hoping it might lead to an arrest. It is being investigated as a hate crime.
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"We think photographs might assist the public if they've heard information. It might click for them," said Det. Lt. Scott Welshimer.
The incident has prompted some seniors to stop coming by the center for now, with attendance down over the past week or so. Some at the center, particularly those who grew up in the South, have been shaken by a hate symbol they know all too well, and said it brought back dark memories of the past.
"The average person, they don't just go up and do things like that, it has to be planned. And why they doing it?" asked senior center member Joan Mealing.
To help the seniors cope with what was found, Babylon now has plans to bring in a counselor in November.
"It's alarming and I hope they continue the investigation and find out what happened," said Sandra Campbell, whose 97-year-old mother is among the seniors at the center. "In the times we're living in, that's not trickery. That's just mean."
Police have vowed to catch whomever is responsible. In the meantime, they have stepped up patrols around the building that before was a place of daily respite for up to 60 seniors.
"No need for them to come in here and desecrate the place like that. So sad," said Quintyne-McConley.
Suffolk police said they are offering a reward for information leading to an arrest.