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Cuomo Orders State Probe of Noose in Harlem Park as NYPD Closes the Case

A noose was found hanging from a tree near the fire tower in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park over the weekend.
A noose was found hanging from a tree near the fire tower in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park over the weekend.
Obtained by THE CITY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered a state investigation Tuesday into the discovery of a noose in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park — even as the NYPD explained away the rope as a piece of leftover construction equipment.

After THE CITY alerted the city Parks & Recreation Department that the noose was dangling from a tree next to the landmark old Mount Morris fire tower, a worker removed the symbol of hate Monday and handed it over to the NYPD.

On Tuesday, the NYPD tweeted that investigators from its Hate Crime Task Force were told by an unnamed “park director” that the rope was “left over from a construction scaffold that was removed in the fall.”

“The rope was used to hoist construction materials,” the tweet said, adding the incident had been investigated “thoroughly.”

But photos published by The New York Times and other outlets when the Parks Department announced the reopening of the restored tower in October show the 47-foot cast iron structure without scaffolding — and with no noose in sight. The trees next to the structure are all bare.

NYPD officials did not respond to questions about the photos. They also did not identify the “park director” who chalked up the rope’s presence to the construction project.

Crystal Howard, a Parks Department spokesperson, said the agency was looking into how the noose got there and referred THE CITY back to the NYPD.

The discovery comes as New York and the nation has been roiled by protests following the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.

‘An Evil Icon’

Cuomo led an outpouring of anger over the noose.

“I am disgusted by the recent discovery of a noose — the epitome of hatred and an evil icon of our country’s racist past — in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park,” Cuomo tweeted late Tuesday. “I have directed the state police Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate this immoral and illegal act.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer tweeted that the noose was “despicable,” while city Comptroller Scott Stringer posted on Facebook: “Make no mistake, these hate crimes are by design.”

Long Island state Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblymember Charles Lavine said the discovery in Marcus Garvey Park “highlights the importance” of passing a bill they sponsored that would require students to learn about “the history and meaning of the noose.”

The Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey tweeted — and later deleted — “Extremely disturbed by reports that a noose was discovered in #MarcusGarveyPark.”

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