A noose found hanging in a Harlem park named after a Black icon has left those in the neighborhood feeling a little shaken up, even if the supposed reason for it being there was not meant to be harmful.
The picture, in which a noose was seen hanging from a tree inside Marcus Garvey Park near the historic Fire Watch Tower, was taken by a park-goer June 13. It has since been taken down, but folks just learning about the incident were quick to voice their alarm and disgust.
“I can’t believe that we would see something like that in this day and age, and I live across the street from this park,” said Derrick Perry. Another resident, Sean Noriega, said that it's "basically impossible that someone got in this park and did something like that and no one saw anything," given how many people are in and around it at all times, day and night.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo promised the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force would investigate the incident.
“I am disgusted by the recent discovery of a noose — the epitome of hatred and an evil icon of our nation's racist past — in Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park," the statement read. "New York is no place for hate, and the progress we've made as a society will not be undone by the work of a few cowards."
But later in the evening, the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force indicated this was not an act of hate. The unit tweeted that they investigated thoroughly and determined from the park director that the noose was left over from a construction scaffold removed in the fall, used to hoist construction materials.
But given the current climate, that explanation was met with skepticism.
“I don’t see how a rope like that could’ve stayed this long through winter storms through wind. And it’s just perfectly there?," asked Kanene Holder. She says if that is what happened, construction crews need to be better trained not to leave images of hate lying around.
"If we want to think about what the noose symbolizes, it is literally a direct threat on the lives of Black people in this country for centuries,” Holder said.
No surveillance footage had yet surfaced that might indicate when the noose was initially put in the park.