The Justice Department and other law enforcers are expressing concern over a recent spate of noose sightings after the civil-rights furor in Jena, La., the Washington Post reports. Nooses have been looped over a tree at the University of Maryland, knotted to the end of stage ropes at a Memphis theater, slung on the doorknob of a black Columbia University professor’s office, hung in a locker room at a Long Island police station, stuffed in the duffel bag of a black Coast Guard cadet aboard a historic ship, and draped around the necks of black dolls in Pittsburgh suburbs. “The noose is replacing the burning cross in the minds of many white people as the primary symbol of the Klan,” said Mark Potok, editor of Intelligence Report, a Southern Poverty Law Center magazine that covers hate groups.
The Justice Department called the placing of nooses “shameful” and deplored the fear and intimidation they are meant to arouse. “Many of these cowardly actions may also violate federal and state civil rights and hate crime laws,” said acting Attorney General Peter Keisler, “The offenders should be aware, and the American people can trust, that the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation  are actively investigating these incidents.” The Justice Department could not point to any recent arrests on hate-crime charges as a result of incidents involving nooses; at a House Judiciary Committee hearing last, week Democrats sharply criticized department officials for not aggressively pursuing such cases.