Earlier this month, two black Penn State University professors reported seeing a “noose” in a tree behind their house.
They told PSU student newspaper the Daily Collegian that the incident was “deeply distressing to them and their family.” Local media outlet the Centre Daily Times reported that the professors believed the alleged noose was “deliberately placed [on the tree] to harass them.”
The College Fix reported that the Patton Township Police Department found the noose and began investigating. Before that investigation was complete, however, PSU President Eric Barron posted a statement condemning the alleged act of hate and accepting the professor’s feelings as truth.
“[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.”
When police spoke to the professors’ neighbor, they learned the truth. It was not a “noose” intended to frighten and intimidate two black residents; it was part of a swing set that had been simply discarded into the woods. The neighbor’s child told police he had simply thrown the length of rope “into the woods.”
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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.
This is simply the latest report of a noose turning out to have non-racist origins. The most famous recent example involved NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, whose team claimed to find a noose hanging in their garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway. The “noose” turned out to be a garage pull that had been hanging for more than a year and was similar to garage pulls in numerous other stalls.
The Daily Wire has also reported on numerous other incidents where a noose turned out to be no such thing. In June 2020, a noose was found in a Harlem park. The New York Police Department investigated the incident and determined it was just some rope left over from construction scaffolding and had been hanging in the park unnoticed for six months. Of course, the determination came after protests and numerous officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), chimed in on the alleged hate crime.
In July 2019, the University of Michigan investigated a “noose” that had been found at a shared employee table at the university hospital. That investigation concluded that the “noose” wasn’t actually a noose but a “Uni Knot,” used for fishing. Someone had been practicing and merely left the rope on the table before chaos ensued.