Effigies of black lynching victims hanging in nooses appeared around the University of California – Berkeley’s campus before a protest against police brutality was to start, but nobody’s sure if they’re racist in nature, or if they’re protest art. According to the Associated Press, police are investigating, but haven’t turned anything up just yet.
The reaction to the tweet above appeared somewhat confused, although one person jumped the gun, and immediately assumed that @rosaclemente was pointing the finger at white people for this:
Others, though, were upset, even if it was art.
The AP spoke to Leigh Raiford, an associate professor of African-American studies at Berkeley, who said that groups like the NAACP have a history of using images of lynchings in campaigns highlighting violence against blacks. Raiford thinks that these images might be along those lines, too.
These effigies, which are cardboard cutouts of lynching victims, contain the names of the victims and the dates of their deaths. At least one of them also bore the message “I can’t breathe,” according to NBC Bay Area.
SFGate spoke to Michael McBride, pastor of The Way Christian Center, about the effigies and students’ reactions. He said:
“I came down and huddled with the students and attempted to help talk them through what they were experiencing, considering the options of it being an art protest, considering the options that it was of malicious intent. I don’t know what the intention is or was because of the anonymity associated with it.”
Berkeley campus police believe that the effigies are related to today’s protest, but so far, they have identified no suspects and nobody is able to figure out if these are just poorly-timed pieces of protest art, or if they’re racist. The police said in a tweet that they’re taking this very seriously, and investigating whether it could potentially be considered a hate crime.