Earlier this week, a pair of black Penn State University professors reported a “noose” in a tree behind their house.
As reported by the PSU student newspaper Daily Collegian, the professors said the incident was “deeply distressing to them and their family.”
The Centre Daily Times notes the profs believed the “noose” was “deliberately placed [on the tree] to harass them.”
Responding to the profs’ call about “possible harassment,” Patton Township Police Department collected the “noose” and began investigating around the neighborhood.
PSU President Eric Barron sprung into action, posting a statement “expressing concern” about the incident and “offering support.”
“[T]he incident underscores the importance of our anti-racism work as a University, and as a community of scholars,” Barron wrote. “It also underscores the importance of our town-gown work to build a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all who live here. Groups like Community & Campus in Unity that have formed the Centre Region Anti-bias Coalition are critical to helping create a climate of acceptance and support.”
Alas, according to the professors’ neighbor who was interviewed by police, the “noose” actually was part of a swing set. The neighbors’ kid told police he merely had thrown the rope “into the woods.”
Patton Police Chief Tyler Jolley concluded there was “no malice” involved. The department added “no kind of crime [was] committed at all” and that the rope just “happened” to fall on the tree.
Nevertheless, in a Wednesday press release, police asked anyone who may have witnessed the incident or “any suspicious activity” in the timeframe in question to contact them.
Onward State reports the professors work in the PSU College of the Liberal Arts and College of Communications respectively. It was “not immediately clear” if the professors agreed with the police’s determination.
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