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Credit: Adina Keeling

Editor’s note: The original story has been updated to include a statement from District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton.

The Evanston Police Department announced Wednesday, June 22, that it had completed its investigation into the discovery of three nooses tied in a tree in an area between Haven Middle School and Kingsley Elementary School nearly six weeks ago, according to a press release from EPD.

Several hours later, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 announced it would now resume its own internal investigation “to determine the appropriate level of interventions, both disciplinary and restorative. This matter was very troubling and we must take the steps necessary to help ensure that this type of hurtful act does not happen again,” according to a statement from Superintendent Devon Horton.

Neither announcement identified the student, because the person is a juvenile.

The EPD explained that by analyzing cell phone videos, surveillance camera footage and witness interviews, it found that a current student at Haven “was responsible for the nooses,” the press release stated. At this point, it continued, the police have now referred the student to Cook County Juvenile Court “for the misdemeanor offense of disorderly conduct.”

However, EPD also said in the release the incident “would not be referred to Juvenile Court for a Hate Crime Offense because the actions and motive of the involved juvenile did not meet the legal, statutory elements of a hate crime.”

In Horton’s seven-paragraph statement, he wrote: “Over the past month, district and school leaders and staff have fully cooperated in their investigation which included witness interviews and review of surveillance video footage provided by the district and also cell phone videos.

“In support of their ongoing investigation, police officials had asked that the District delay its internal investigation into the matter until the Police Department’s investigation had concluded. …Now that the EPD investigation has concluded, the District will move forward with its own internal investigation.”

He continued: “We fully recognize the harm of these actions on our community, especially for our Black students, staff, families, and residents. Our schools must be safe spaces so that all members of our district community feel a sense of belonging and welcomeness. This is why we remain deeply and intentionally committed to dismantling systems of oppression within our own district, addressing historic inequities through policy, procedural, and programming changes, and creating opportunities for healing and community building.”

No government officials would answer any further questions, beyond the statements.

“The info in the release is all that can be released at this time,” EPD Commander Ryan Glew told the RoundTable in an email.

When contacted for more information and general next steps in a juvenile case involving disorderly conduct, a spokesperson for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office would not comment.

“We do not have any information to provide at this time,” the spokesperson told the RoundTable in an email. “The Evanston Police Department is the best resource to provide information on the investigation or any arrests related to this incident.”

The three nooses were found Friday, May 13, when a witness pointed out to officers on the scene at the time that they were hanging in a tree in the recess area outside Haven. The “officers promptly removed and recovered as evidence” the nooses, Wednesday’s EPD press release read.

Within a few hours of the incident, Horton sent an email to the District 65 community about the discovery of the nooses and the racist imagery they represented.

“This is a hate crime and a deliberate and specific incidence of an outwardly racist act,” Horton wrote at the time. “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.”

The Evanston RoundTable has put together a brief history of the significance of nooses and lynching.

Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...

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  1. Thank you Evanston Round Table editorial staff. I was asked to do that for an earlier comment on this issue and I fully complied. In regard to this situation, I wish that the public would wait until the whole investigation was completed at the district level before threatening lawsuits, ouster of the Board, etc. It’s very disturbing that people are not willing to put their names on their comments either. This is a prime reason to continue with our anti-racist training in District 65. Yes, I think it’s fine to offer criticism, but you should be willing to put your name behind it.

  2. Of all possible outcomes, this is probably the least awful. No outsiders. No adults. A learning opportunity for child. Thank you for this update. Thank you to police and to school administration and educators.