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Officials: Second ‘noose’ found at Sonoma State University

A second rope fashioned like a noose was discovered inside a Sonoma State University classroom days after the first one was found in a dormitory swimming pool, campus police and staff said.

The latest discovery occurred Thursday inside a Salazar Hall classroom, Campus Police Chief Nader Oweis confirmed Monday.

There was no damage to the classroom and no suspects have been identified.

Oweis said investigators have not determined if the incident is linked to the May 2 discovery by staff of a noose-like rope attached to a barbecue grill submerged in a pool.

The sites “are not near each other,” the chief told The Press Democrat.

“We have encouraged anyone with information or tips to contact us about both incidents,” he said.

Finals exams are underway this week and graduation takes place this weekend.

A campus email was distributed to students and staff on Friday to alert them about the second rope, which is being investigated as a potential hate crime.

In the email, which was obtained by The Press Democrat, officials condemned the discoveries and described them as “vile gestures of hate and intolerance.” The email was from Provost Karen Moranski and Jerlena Griffin-Desta, the Sonoma State chief of staff.

The noose has a long, racist history, the email noted, “signaling lawless violence and torture of Black Americans throughout this country, and echoes as a threat to a community already subjected to centuries of police and extrajudicial violence, slavery, segregation, daily microaggressions, and incidents of unconscious bias.”

Under California law, anyone convicted of displaying a noose may face jail time or fines of several thousand dollars.

Sonoma State officials referenced similar incidents that recently occurred at other Bay Area colleges, including one at Stanford University on May 8.

According to Stanford officials, ropes were tied to a tree for a student performance outside Branner Hall, a campus residence, several years ago.

The ropes were never removed and one of them was fashioned into a noose last week.

Stanford’s Department of Public Safety is investigating the incident, which is the third of this nature to take place on campus July 2019 and November 2021.

“We are working in vigorous and committed ways to advance equity, inclusion, and belonging in our Stanford community. We have been making progress. But incidents like this one show how far we still have to go,” Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement.

A similar incident occurred on March 30, 2021 at the University of San Francisco when a noose was discovered on a fourth-floor railing at a student housing building.

A student admitted to hanging the noose and was later expelled, USF officials later announced.

You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at colin.atagi@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @colin_atagi.

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