According to a late Friday afternoon email from Superintendent Devon Horton to District 65 families, parents at Kingsley Elementary School reported finding three nooses hanging from trees in the area between Kingsley and Haven Middle School.
The nooses were accompanied by “notes in support of Haven educators,” Horton wrote in his message.
Earlier Friday afternoon, hundreds of Haven students staged a peaceful sit-in protesting involuntary teacher transfers to new schools. An anonymous staff member called the Evanston Police Department for support during the protest, and EPD told the RoundTable that no criminal activity was found at the time.
However, Horton said in his email that, when some students walked out of the school amid Friday’s demonstration, “Haven students were seen allegedly chanting and carrying ropes to the location where the nooses were found.”
“This is a hate crime and a deliberate and specific incidence of an outwardly racist act. It resounds with a tone of hate and hurt that will impact members of our entire community, namely Black and African American students, staff, and families who have experienced generations of harm,” Horton said in his email. “What began as a peaceful protest by students is now tainted with hate and is part of a string of racist actions that continue to be directed at district and school administrators.”
In a statement to the RoundTable, EPD Sgt. Ken Carter said that while at least one officer was in the area of Haven and Kingsley following the student protest, a teacher pointed out the nooses that were hanging in a tree between the two schools. In his email, though, Horton said Kingsley parents found the nooses.
“We’re not sure if this is related to the protest today. There is no indication that it is, but [the nooses were] pointed out to our officers,” Carter said. “Our department heads made contact with the school, and the principal of the school has been advised of the situation.”
EPD recovered the nooses, and an investigation into the incident is now ongoing, according to Carter. No injuries were reported, and police do not yet know who or what the nooses were directed toward, he said. Carter did not mention EPD finding any notes in support of Haven teachers near the nooses.
Horton also encouraged parents to discuss this incident with their children at home and directed them to the “Talking about Race” page on the District 65 website.
“Our district, board, administration, and community will continue to fight racism in all forms,” Horton wrote in the email. “Institutionalized racism has been used in the past to intimidate and discourage minority leaders from disrupting institutionalized racism. It’s important that we, as adults, model for our students how to have safe discourse when emotions are high.”