NBC affiliate WLBT 3 reported on Monday that seven nooses and a number of signs were found at the Mississippi State Capitol around 8 a.m. on Monday.
According to the Associated Press, two nooses were found at the Capitol early Monday morning, and five have been found since – just one day before the U.S. Senate runoff between Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Epsy.
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The Associated Press reported that the handwritten hate signs all referred to the state’s history of lynching. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety posted photos on Monday of the signs on social media seeking information as to their origin from the public.
One of the handwritten hate signs read: “We need someone who respects the lives of lynch victims.” Another sign read: “We’re hanging nooses to remind people that times haven’t changed.”
Spokeswoman for the Hyde-Smith campaign, Melissa Scallan condemned the nooses and stated: “Obviously, this behavior is offensive and has no place in a civilized society.”
A statement was released on Monday by Governor Phil Bryant that stated:
“The perpetrators of this act will be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I have contacted the Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for assistance.”
Governor Phil Bryant
U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst also issued a statement in response to the hate signs and nooses found outside the Mississippi State Capitol:
“With our law enforcement partners, we are actively looking into these acts of hate and intimidation. Let me be perfectly clear – there is absolutely no place in our state for these unacceptable symbols or tactics to intimidate others. If we find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that a federal crime has occurred, these criminals will be swiftly prosecuted and held accountable. Let us all respond to these despicable acts by voting, working, raising our families, practicing our faith, and pursuing the American dream here in our great state without fear or trepidation and in harmony with our fellow citizens.”
U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves also issued a statement:
“I have asked Capitol Police and the Department of Public Safety to fully investigate this reprehensible act and will support the resources necessary to find those responsible,”
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves
The NAACP even issued their own statement:
Statement from the Mississippi State Conference NAACP
“While much of the information about the incident is still unknown, we firmly believe the current climate of racial and cultural insensitivity has contributed to a decline in civil discourse.
We recognize this moment as further evidence of the need to actively engage in the political process and hold our elected officials accountable for their rhetoric and voting records. We will continue to defend the civil and human rights of everyone in Mississippi and will work diligently to defeat hate wherever or however it materializes.
We are mindful of the vicious cycle of intimidation and divisiveness that has created the current political climate that at best disenfranchises minority voters and at worst is a threat to their wellbeing. We will continue to encourage and support efforts to ensure all Mississippians can participate in the political process and become more civically engaged.”
Capitol police have not released surveillance video since this incident is still under investigation, but they did say they were reviewing the video of the grounds to track who could have left the hate signs and nooses.
The story is developing.