A noose was discovered Wednesday on the grounds of an exhibit at the newly minted National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washinton, DC. This marks the second time this week that a noose has been found within a Smithsonian museum property.
According to BuzzFeed News, a tourist came across the rope inside the Era of Segregation 1786-1968, one of the museum’s three history-based galleries.
“It was rather a small rope thing and not something that would set off the magnetometers,” Linda St. Thomas, a Smithsonian spokeswoman, shared with BuzzFeed News. “Park Police removed it and we reopened the gallery about an hour later.”
Although Police had removed visitors from the section of the museum where the noose was found to investigate, the rest of the museum remained open to visitors, according to The Hill.
According to NBC 4 in Washington DC, Smithsonian Institution secretary David Skorton shared an email with Smithsonian staffers regarding the ongoing incidents.
“The Smithsonian family stands together in condemning this act of hatred and intolerance, especially repugnant in a museum that affirms and celebrates the American values of inclusion and diversity,” Skorton wrote. “We will not be intimated. Cowardly acts like these will not, for one moment, prevent us from the vital work we do.”
When it comes to unearthing nooses on its grounds, the Smithsonian Instutition isn’t alone. Recently, several schools including the likes of Duke University, American Univeristy, and University of Maryland at College Park have experience similar incidents. Yet, the Smithsonian Institute occurance doesn’t appear to be connected to the events that happened on the college campuses.
Earlier this week, Time notes that a noose was found Saturday, May 27 on the grounds of a different Smithsonian building — four days before Wednesday’s discovery. It was found hanging on a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which is located across the street from the NMAAHC. At this time, US Park Police are looking into both events, according to BuzzFeed News.
“We do consider this one to be different,” Bunch shared with BuzzFeed News regardin Wednesday’s incident. “In this case it’s clearly a message to the museum.”
Lonnie Bunch, the NMAAHC’s founding director, also shared their thoughts on the incident. Naturally, his words were published on the museum’s official Twitter account.
“The noose has long represented a deplorable acty of cowardice and depravity — a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans,” Bunch wrote. “This was a horrible act, but is a stark reminder of why our work is so important.”
One can hope that these highly similar Smithsonian museum incidents aren’t a part of a larger, threatening pattern.
“We haven’t seen such mainstream support for hate in decades, not since the Civil Rights era 50 years ago,” Ryan Lenz, a Southern Poverty Law Center spokesperson, told Smithsonian.com. “We’re witnessing a moment when there are tremendous challenges to the country that we built on pluralism and democracy. The civil rights accorded every American are firmly under threat.”
Police are currently asking for anyone with information regarding these criminal acts to call the US Park Police immediately.