UPDATE: Campus police have concluded that the metal objects seen hanging from trees outside of Mitchell Hall at the University of Delaware were not, in fact, nooses.
"Based on an investigation conducted throughout the night, University of Delaware Police have determined that the three noose-like items found outside Mitchell Hall were not instruments of a hate crime," Peter Bothum, a UD spokesman, said in an e-mail sent out early this morning. "They were remnants of paper lanterns from an event previously held on The Green."
Bothum included pictures of the metal objects in question as they appeared last night and how they appeared earlier in the day for comparison:
Even though UDPD insists that the metal objects were not meant to be offensive, Bothum himself admitted that they were noose-like in form. It's unclear why the fixtures were left in the trees to hang given their odd and potentially offensive appearance.
A noose was found hanging from a tree in a University of Delaware courtyard tonight, just hours after #BlackLivesMatter activists gathered on the campus in protest of a conservative pundit's controversial visit to the school.
On Monday evening, Townhall editor and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich took to the stage at UD's Mitchell Hall to express her support for gun rights laws. She was invited to the campus by Students for the Second Amendment, a pro-gun student organization.
Though Pavlich may have arrived intending to speak to a crowd of like-minded students, her speech was peacefully disrupted by roughly 80 #BlackLivesMatter protesters who gathered together in front of the hall while she spoke.
In the past, it's worth noting, Pavlich referred to the larger #BlackLivesMatter movement as "a violent hate group."
Around 10 pm, after Pavlich's speech had ended, a group of black students noticed something hanging from a tree on the Green near Mitchel Hall: a noose haphazardly swinging from the branches.
"When I looked closer, I saw what looked like two metal hangers in the shape of nooses hanging from the tree and a third string that had nothing attached to it," Harry Lewis, a Delaware student, told me. "I immediately posted pictures of them and called the police."
Lewis immediately called campus police, whom he says were initially reluctant to believe that the objects hanging from the tree were meant to be nooses.
"UD Police are investigating a racist display found outside of Mitchell Hall tonight and it is being investigated as a hate crime, " University police stated in an e-mail that was sent campus-wide.
"Such cowardly and reprehensible acts are clearly designed to intimidate
and frighten, and they are unacceptable on our campus," wrote University of Delaware President Nancy Targett in another e-mail. "These hateful acts stand in stark contrast to the peaceful protest and discussion held near the same spot just one day earlier."
Targett assured students and staff that campus police would thoroughly investigate the incident and announced that campuswide gathering was scheduled for Wednesday to address the nooses as a community.
According to Lewis, who serves as the VP of UD's Men's Action Network, racial tensions on campus have been high in the weeks leading up to last night's event. According to Delaware Online, when word broke that the #BlackLivesMatter protesters planned on attending Pavlich's speech, on-campus security was beefed up from two people to 16.
Though admission to the speech was initially supposed to be free, Lewis explained, Students for the Second Amendment made sure to collect money from the protestors before letting them into the venue. Non-protesters, according to Lewis, were not charged.
When I asked Lewis why race relations at UD seemed to have come to a tipping point, he pointed out that while the campus's student body is still predominantly white, the University had just admitted a sizable number of non-white students.
"Our campus is 74% white," Lewis said. "And we just admitted our most diverse class ever with that disparity."