The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

Noose Found Inside Washington’s National African American Museum

On Wednesday, May 31, visitors to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, found a noose hanging in an exhibition on segregation. While the police took down the racist symbol and are investigating the incident, officials at the Smithsonian confirmed that a second noose was found hanging from a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum earlier this week.

Suspects have not yet been identified. The NMAAHC’s exhibition “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876–1968” was shut down temporarily immediately following the discovery but has since reopened.

“The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity—a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans. Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face,” director Lonnie Bunch wrote in an e-mail to staff members.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than thirteen hundred hate incidents were reported between the 2016 election and February 2017, the majority of which targeted immigrants and African Americans. Last month, two nooses were also found hanging at a shipping terminal in Oakland, California, as well as at Crofton Middle School in Maryland.

“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,” wrote the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution David Skorton in an institution-wide e-mail. “We will not be intimated. Cowardly acts like these will not, for one moment, prevent us from the vital work we do.”