A Home Depot customer in Delaware will not be charged with a hate crime after tying a noose in an aisle.
Delaware State Police announced Thursday that the incident did not legally qualify as a hate crime, Delaware Online reported. Sgt. Richard D. Bratz, communications director for the state police, told the outlet that a hate crime involves an act that targets a specific person based on a protected class, such as race or gender.
The noose found in the aisle of Home Depot did not appear to be targeted toward anyone in particular. The customer who tied the noose came forward to say that he or she had been in the store shopping for ropes for work. The customer was building a canopy for someone who wanted to decorate it with various “rope knots.” The customer tied the noose but left it in the aisle and continued shopping.
Sometime later, two sisters found the noose and began screaming, according to Delaware Online. The manager asked another employee to help the women since he was assisting another customer, but ran over when they began screaming his name. The manager told Delaware Online that the women cursed at him when he tried to assist them. The sisters posted a photo of the noose online.
“The person who put it in the aisle did not know that these two people would see it,” Bratz said. “It was not directed to anyone.”
Days later, a store manager reported to police that he had been threatened over the phone by two women and a man. The manager said the people called him a racist and cursed at him, according to Delaware Online.
Bratz said the people who made the threatening phone calls “absolutely” could be charged with harassment.
The sisters who found the noose previously said they would lead a demonstration outside the store.
This story comes the same week that the University of Michigan concluded its month-long investigation into a length of rope found in a shared workspace in the school’s hospital. While some employees reported the rope as a “noose,” it turns out the rope was actually tied in a “Uni Knot” by a someone practicing the knot for fishing.
Just as with the Home Depot incident, those who assumed the worst about the rope protested. The dean of UM’s Medical School, Dr. Marschall S. Runge, immediately released a statement condemning “hate” and vowing to take “immediate action.”
The rush to judgment has never in recent memory resulted in an actual finding of a hate crime. Every noose ends up having an innocent explanation.