A visitor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture found a noose on the floor of an exhibit today, BuzzFeed reports. According to the Smithsonian, U.S. Park Police removed the noose from the Washington, D.C. museum, and the “Era of Segregation 1786-1968” exhibit was closed for three hours.
The release from the NMAAHC/Smithsonian points out that the noose has increasingly been a symbol of choice for America’s newly emboldened racists:
“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 email. “We will not be intimated. Cowardly acts like these will not, for one moment, prevent us from the vital work we do.”
These ominous reminders of America’s dark history with lynching have appeared around the country, from a school in Missouri to a series of four nooses hung around a construction site in Maryland. Other nooses have been found on the Duke University campus, the Port of Oakland in California, a fraternity house at the University of Maryland, a middle school in Maryland, and at a high school in Lakewood, California.
All of them seem to be part of a larger wave of violence, intimidation and hate crimes. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than 1,300 hate incidents were reported between the 2016 election and February 2017. Of those 1,300, anti-immigrant incidents have been the most prevalent, followed by anti-black.
The NMAAHC opened in September. Today’s noose incident comes five days after another noose was hung outside another Smithsonian museum, which a spokesman called unprecedented at the time.
That the museum is important and should exist is obvious, despite conservative writers taking vaguely unpleasant field trips there. But incidents like today’s only underscore how vital it is to have institutions dedicated to chronicling America’s ongoing history of racism.
Update, 8:40 PM: Smithsonian spokesperson Linda St. Thomas tells Fusion that the first noose may have been up before Friday, saying: “We have no idea how long the one in tree had been there. It was hard to spot.”