Noose found at Amherst College, suspects identified

BY ABBY BAKER ’19

Early last week, a noose was found on Amherst College’s Pratt Football Field, setting the campus on edge and prompting a police investigation. According to police, the noose was placed there on either Sept. 4 or 5.                                                                       

Campus police say the alleged perpetrators have now been identified. The perpetrators are believed to be two juveniles who are not students at Amherst College. Because of privacy laws that protect juveniles accused of crimes, the names of the alleged perpetrators will not be released. 

Chief John B. Carter of the Amherst College Police Department addressed the issue in an email to the college community on Monday. “The juveniles are not members of the Amherst College community,” he wrote. “The reports will now be submitted to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office for review.”                                                              

The district attorney’s office will investigate whether the act constitutes a hate crime. Amherst College President Carolyn Martin said, “I want to assure you that neither of these two individuals will be allowed on our campus again. The College is issuing no trespass orders and they will be barred from setting foot on campus.”                      

The incident at Amherst occurs on the heels of numerous hate crimes at colleges throughout the country. Just last spring, bananas tied in string nooses were hung in several places on the campus of American University in Washington D.C.  

“Despite its gravity, this case is unfortunately not isolated from many other experiences of prejudice and discrimination that our students of color have faced and continue to face,” President Martin noted in a letter to the campus sent on Sept. 11. “I see this moment as an opportunity to dedicate ourselves more concertedly and creatively to fighting bigotry and discrimination and to creating the inclusive intellectual community that every student at Amherst is promised.”  

President Martin went on to say that the college does not support any of the sentiments behind the action.  “I call on every member of our community to join me in condemning it and in standing with those directly targeted by an act of this kind. A lynching noose generates fear because it represents the use of terror and murder as a form of intimidation and social control. You have my assurance that we are taking this act seriously and the perpetrators will be punished appropriately.”

Some Amherst students have expressed dissatisfaction at the school’s handling of the most recent noose case. The Direct Action Coordinating Committee, a student group at Amherst College, said on their Facebook that the campus Democrat and Republican clubs as well as the police “have done virtually nothing to address the act of terror that took place on our campus on September 4th or 5th.”

The group also said on their Facebook, “DACC believes in direct and immediate action when white supremacists threaten our safety and peace of mind. We will not let students be intimidated. This is our campus.”

After the discovery of the noose at Amherst, anti-Ku Klux Klan flyers were found throughout campus, reading, “This Is Our Campus Not the Klan’s.” These flyers were also found at the year’s first meeting of the Amherst College Republican Club. 

On Tuesday, hundreds of Amherst students rallied on Pratt Football Field to denounce the act. According to Facebook posts from DACC and the Black Student Union, “While this protest will be centered around the blatant threat to black lives that occurred, it will also encapsulate other groups’ struggles for justice both on campus and off campus.”

According to MassLive, Jonathan Jackson, a junior at Amherst and one of the organizers, said, “We needed to be visible.”

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