Several ropes were found in an Oakland, California park, causing an outrage as they were knotted. As it transpires, however, the ropes turned out to be exercise aids for a black man who had left them there to work out.
Several members of the local community came forward to tell authorities that the ropes belonged to a resident who used them to exercise.
Despite the revelation that the ropes, which had not caused a stir until authorities caught wind of the situation following a Facebook post, was in fact for the purpose of exercise, an investigation by local authorities is set to be carried out.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf who said, “start with the assumption that these are hate crimes,” announced Wednesday that a “hate crime” investigation has been launched.
According to US News, Schaaf also said “Intentions don’t matter when it comes to terrorizing the public.”
She added: “It is incumbent on all of us to know the actual history of racial violence, of terrorism, that a noose represents and that we as a city must remove these terrorizing symbols from the public view.”
The five ropes were initially believed to be symbols of racial hatred. Photos reportedly showed the ropes hanging from trees with pieces of plastic tied to them.
The ropes have now been removed from the park.
The owner of the ropes, African American man Victor Sengbe, told media that “Out of the hundreds, thousands of people who walked by, no one even thought it looked anywhere close to a noose. Folks have used it for exercise, it was really a fun addition to the park that we tried to create.”
Regardless, the city’s director of parks recreation, Nicholas Williams, said, “The symbolism of the rope hanging in the tree is malicious regardless of intent. It’s evil, and it symbolizes hatred.”
The mayor added that the fact the ropes were left in the park as exercise equipment by a black man did not “excuse their tortuous and terrorizing effects.”
Following the incident, as racism has become a hot topic after the George Floyd Black Lives Matter protests, the local police alerted the FBI.
According to a Police statement, “We recognize especially at this time, that any ropes on or attached to trees, limbs or other objects can be associated with hate crimes and racial violence.”