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A Cloudy Picture of How Rope Turned to Noose in Harlem Park

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

A noose found hanging from a tree in a Harlem park over the weekend appears to have been fashioned from rope left over from construction there that ended last fall, city officials revealed Wednesday.

The discovery of what looks like a carefully crafted hangman’s noose dangling from a tree in Marcus Garvey Park triggered outrage and probes by the NYPD Hate Crimes unit and the state police Hate Crimes Task Force.

The Parks Department highlighted a rope they say was left in a tree next to the refurbished fire tower in Marcus Garvey Park.
Parks Department officials highlighted a rope they say was left in a tree last year next to the refurbished fire tower in Marcus Garvey Park.
Courtesy of the New York City Parks Department

The NYPD ended its investigation Tuesday after speaking with a Marcus Garvey Park Alliance supporter who told them the rope was left behind after reconstruction of the park’s landmark fire tower concluded in October. Officials said the park supporter told them the rope was used to haul construction equipment up scaffolding.

The supporter did not return calls from THE CITY.

But photos the city Department of Parks & Recreation released Wednesday appear to contradict that assessment. The pictures, taken by the department when the tower was reopened, show a loose loop of rope — but no noose — snagged on branches in a tree next to the tower.

Who made the noose — and when and why — remains unknown.

“We cannot say for certain where this rope came from,” said Crystal Howard, a Parks Department spokesperson. “I can’t speak to how it got there or its prior use.”

She added, “We are relieved that the NYPD did not rule this incident a hate crime.”

‘An Evil Icon’

A park-goer over the weekend sent photos of the noose to THE CITY, which prompted parks officials to send a staffer Monday to take it down and turn it over to the police. At the time, the parks officials said they were “dismayed” at the presence of the symbol of hate.

Several politicians reacted angrily to the discovery at a time when Black Lives Matter protests are taking place daily across the city, amid calls for police reforms following the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the noose “an evil icon of our country’s racist past” and ordered the state police Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the governor did not respond to a request for comment on the status of that probe.

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