Oakland parents say 'noose' incidents prompt opportunity for discussion, education

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- When a rope was found at Chabot Elementary in late August, slung over a fence like a noose, it triggered parent Courtney Jones.

"Let me just be clear, there are some concerns here with racial issues that run deep through the Chabot community. I have experienced it on more than one occasion," explains Jones, who has two children who attend Chabot Elementary.

When a second rope was found last Friday at a public park across the street from the school, Jones thought it was more than just a coincidence, especially given the current political climate.

RELATED: Community on edge after rope resembling a noose found near Oakland elementary school for 2nd time

"There is a need for healing, there is a need for a deeper discussion. There is a need to figure out, what is going on! Are my children safe? I have a huge concern about this," says Jones, who is also the former PTA president.

John Sasaki, a spokesperson for the Oakland Unified School District, says a student came forward in the first incident and explained that he just threw the rope on the fence after he found it on the ground, and it landed in a way looking like a noose.

Sasaki says a manager for a little league team that plays at the park, thinks the second rope may have been tied by students who like to climb it to sit on top of the batting cage.

"So, it is possible that that rope was being used as leverage, or handle or a foothold, something like that to get on that batting cage. Again, we don't know and are keeping both of those investigations very much open," says Sasaki.

RELATED: 'It was hurtful' Parents say rope resembling a noose discovered at Oakland elementary school

Sasaki says Oakland police and the FBI investigated both incidents, and say there is no evidence to suggest either is a hate crime. Still, police officers will patrol the school all week.

But some parents, like Jones, say the school district needs to do more, even if these are not hate crimes.

Some of that includes more education and training on how to talk to children about these sensitive topics, and in an era of the "MeToo" movement, where women are demanding to be heard, Jones says the same needs to be done for people of color.

"Let me just be honest, if it were a bundle of sticks in the shape of a swastika, we would not be standing here talking about a bundle of sticks. We would have called it what it was. And we would have talked about how it triggered other people," says Jones.

A vigil was scheduled for Friday, September 13, but it has been postponed. No new date has been given.
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