Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee has an investigation underway following the discovery of six nooses hung from a tree on campus.
The university began receiving complaints around 5 p.m. on Monday after people started noticing the hateful symbols near the campuses Trahern Fine Arts Building.
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Each noose was a different color and they were organized in the pattern of a rainbow. Once campus police located the nooses they removed them “out of concern of hate symbolism and its potential impact to the campus,” according to local news station WKRN.
As expected, the university president spoke out about the incident, offering her deepest apologies and noting that the display is not a representation of the school’s values.
Campus PD rolled up on us pic.twitter.com/kzD1kpPcgn— GLIZZY McGee (@Corey_2Gunnz) April 18, 2016
“This incident is deeply disturbing and is hurtful to our University community,” university president Alisa White said. “Regardless of the intent, the display has no place on our campus. I am saddened, and I am sorry for the hurt and offense this has caused and want our students, faculty, and staff to know that it will not be tolerated.”
The nooses were placed near the art building and the rainbow arrangement was obviously deliberate, which is why several students took to social media to defend the “art project” which was meant to bring awareness to the number of suicides within the LGBT community.
According to the Washington Post, an anonymous student claimed the project was approved by a professor as part of an introductory sculpture class.
While the display has garnered plenty of outrage and harsh criticisms for reflecting hate and racism, one Facebook user praised the “artist” who put the piece together:
“As an actual lesbian,” she wrote, “I’m going to say this: If the piece truly was about suicides in LGBT community, than [sic] it was a spectacular piece. It needs to have attention, not just small articles here and there. Suicides in the LGBT community is [sic] an epidemic.”
“Whoever the student was, bravo, you have the attention of the people, that is what art is about. It’s not always going to be pretty, it’s going to be raw, and from the heart. Art tells a story,” she added.
While hanging is known as a common suicide method, it also symbolizes the barbaric history of lynching African-Americans.
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The nooses at Austin Peay were publicly displayed with no context to accompany them. No note was pinned to the tree explaining what the ropes represented and based on the responses, there was no correspondence that went out to students advising them that such a project would be taking place.
This is quite a touchy subject. While it is true that suicides in the LGBT community deserve to be brought to light, it shouldn’t be done at the expense of hurting another marginalized group.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Reuters