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Educators, contractors react to noose found at Grosse Pointe South High School

Investigation turned over to the FBI

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 7, 2020

 The Detroit division of the FBI continues to investigate who is responsible for hanging a noose at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms June 23.

The Detroit division of the FBI continues to investigate who is responsible for hanging a noose at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms June 23.

File photo by Deb Jacques

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS —  When Jon Dean, Grosse Pointe Public School System deputy superintendent for human resources and educational services, learned that a noose had been found at Grosse Pointe South High School last month, he said he was “aghast and troubled.”

“In our society, a noose to an African American is a symbol of violence and hatred,” Dean said.

A noose represents lynchings. The noose was found inside a classroom at South June 23. Dean said the noose was made from a window treatment.

According to Dean, the only individuals who have been in the part of the building where the noose was found are employees from Turner Construction Co., which has been conducting bond work on the district’s $111,040,000 bond referendum.

Since South is currently a construction site, no staff has been at the school for the past several weeks. The only individuals currently working at South are related to the ongoing construction activity. The school has been closed to students since mid-March, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed all public, private and boarding schools for the rest of the 2019-20 school year because of COVID-19.

At 9:30 a.m. June 24, Turner Construction Co. notified district officials that, when conducting a final safety walk-through at the school the night before, the noose was discovered. Turner immediately sealed off the room containing the noose and notified the Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Department.

The investigation was turned over to the Detroit division of the FBI to find the person or persons responsible for the noose. The FBI said it could not comment on details about the case since it is an ongoing investigation. However, Public Affairs Officer Mara Schneider said that, under U.S. Code Title 18, Section 249, the matter could be considered a federal hate crime if charges are filed.

“That’s any kind of act meant to threaten a group based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion or if there are certain objects that might be perceived as a threat,” Schneider said.

On June 24, Turner addressed the matter through a public statement.

“Over the past few weeks, our collective awareness regarding race and racism has been raised,” the statement reads. “Turner has proactively taken steps to discuss these issues within our company and on our project sites. Then yesterday, a noose was found in a room at Grosse Pointe South. Turner notified the police and are providing every assistance to the investigation of this intolerable action. Anyone found responsible shall be removed from the site and, as appropriate, referred to local authorities for criminal prosecution.”

On June 26, the Grosse Pointe Education Association released a statement regarding the noose find.

“While our nation is reawakening to the reality of institutional racism — even in its subtlest forms — the appearance of a noose has never been subtle. It symbolizes the violence and hate of racism at its most extreme form.

“To discover that symbol of violence and hate in what is supposed to be a safe learning space is unconscionable,” the statement reads. “While we can work to cleanse our school buildings of the deadly coronavirus, this incident shows that we have even more work ahead of us to cleanse our schools and our society of the scourge of racism.”

In the meantime, Dean said educators will continue to work on race relations within the district.

“We have to develop specific plans so everyone feels safe and comfortable in our school buildings,” Dean said. “Unfortunately, there is a history of systematic racism. As a society, we have not yet figured out how to get along.

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