In late June, the University of Michigan announced it would investigate an incident of a “noose” found at a shared employee table at the university hospital. The investigation has since 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.
Despite every “hate crime” claim in recent memory turning out to be some kind of hoax, university police jumped into action and school officials denounced racism. Dr. Marschall S. Runge, the dean of UM’s Medical School, announced that the school had “taken immediate action” to investigate the so-called noose.
“This act of hate violates all of the values that we hold dear and will not be tolerated,” Runge said in a statement obtained by Fox 6 News. She added that the noose was a “symbol of hate and discrimination.”
Fox also reported the incident would be investigated “as an act of discrimination and criminal ethnic intimidation.”
University police spokeswoman Heather Young told the outlet that the school would be able to use surveillance cameras to determine what happened.
“We have thousands of cameras all over the University of Michigan, and we are looking at all sources of information,” she said.
She also said that since the workspace was shared by multiple employees, it was “difficult to answer” questions about the ethnicity or race of those who worked there.
The FBI was even alerted, Fox reported. Special agent Timothy R. Slater, who leads the bureau’s Detroit office, said that if “information comes to light of a potential federal civil rights violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate.”
That was June 20. Nearly a month later, the University of Michigan’s Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) concluded the “noose” was not a noose at all, but actually a practice knot.
“Based on multiple witness interviews and other evidence, DPSS does not believe that the incident involving the rope was a hate crime. If relevant new information comes forward, the case will be reopened,” the department said in a statement.
The “spool of rope” was concluded to have been used by someone who was on break and practicing a “Uni Knot,” which is used for fishing. This person returned the rope to a storage area with the knot still in tied and was discovered the next day by another employee.
Even though this incident turned out not to be a hate crime, DPSS still felt it necessary to insist hate crimes are “taken very seriously.”
“We all share the responsibility of creating a safe and secure environment free from violent or threatening behavior,” said DPSS Executive Director Eddie L. Washington, Jr. “Any crime designed to infringe upon these rights will be taken very seriously by the university and DPSS.”
DPSS could have used the moment to try and calm people down from assuming everything is a hate crime, but that would have caused a backlash in today’s society.
DPSS also included information for those wishing to report “bias incidents,” described by the department as “non-criminal speech or behaviors that are motivated by a bias against a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability.”