PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A noose was reportedly found on the Oregon Health & Science University's campus on Thursday.
OHSU said a police officer responded to one of the research buildings on the report of a noose looped over a construction cone in a secure area. The officer documented the incident and dismantled the noose.
Officers reviewed surveillance video, but OHSU said the cameras did not capture the specific area where the noose was found.
OHSU said officers will review badge reader access data to determine who may have entered the secure area.
“A noose is a symbol of hatred. It’s a cowardly act to symbolize some sort of reaction of terror,” said Ty Schwoeffermann with Unite Oregon, a Portland nonprofit that fights for racial justice.
He describes the noose as a hate symbol targeting African-Americans – and connected to the history of lynching.
“It’s never a joke,” Schwoeffermann said. “It is a very serious occurrence. So, when we see it in our communities, we need to take it seriously.”
OHSU's president and interim vice president of human resources released a joint statement on Friday, saying:
"OHSU strongly condemns the posting of a noose on our campus. This action is abhorrent, and we recognize that this symbol can be traumatic to members of our community. We regret any distress it caused and acted quickly to remove it. OHSU does not tolerate harassment or intimidation of any kind. We embrace a culture of inclusion and encourage employees, patients, visitors and students to speak out against such acts. Harsh consequences are imposed for anyone at OHSU who by word or action is hostile to others. Anyone who witnesses harassment or discrimination at OHSU is encouraged to report it."
This is the second time in three years that the finding of a noose has been reported on the OHSU campus.
In December 2016, an employee took a photo of what appeared to be a miniature noose, hanging on a door near an 11th floor mail room.
Regarding the latest case, the OHSU Workers’ Union put out a statement saying there’s a “culture problem” at OHSU and suggests management hasn’t done enough to stop issues like this.
Some states – including New York, Connecticut and Virginia – have enacted legislation that specifically make it a crime to publicly display a noose.
Oregon does not have such a law, but public areas are where they’ve been reportedly showing up.
Two weeks ago, a letter sent home to parents at Portland’s Chapman Elementary School said a noose was found in a mechanical room.
Schwoeffermann says it’s important that people who find the symbols of racism properly document it.
“Report it to the authorities that you feel will protect you, and will listen and hear about these events, and then react in an appropriate way,” he said.
Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.