A rope tied into a noose was found at a construction site in an off-campus building owned by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on Thursday, university officials announced late Friday night.
Representatives of Plano-Coudon, a general contractor, told university officials Thursday that a noose had been discovered at a construction site in the Stieff Silver Building in Remington, where the Baltimore-based firm is renovating a laboratory that is part of the university’s Whiting School of Engineering.
Hopkins officials have referred what they call a potential hate crime to federal law enforcement, and the university has launched an investigation through its Office of Institutional Equity, spokeswoman Karen Lancaster said.
Lancaster said university officials are coordinating their actions with Plano-Coudon, “which has offered its full cooperation and support.”
The university was swift to decry what it was viewing as a clear act of racial hatred.
“Johns Hopkins University condemns this act of hate,” President Ronald J. Daniels said in a message to the university community Friday. “We find such racist imagery horrifying and repugnant and a direct threat to the Black community at Johns Hopkins and in Baltimore, standing in stark opposition to the values of equity, justice, and humanity to which we are firmly committed.”
The incident comes amid protests that have been sweeping the country since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota last month.
Daniel Ennis, Johns Hopkins University’s senior vice president for administration and finance, said the school has shut the job site down until further notice.
“We take this matter extremely seriously,” he said. “[We] will do everything within our power to make sure our community is free from hate and intimidation. Acts like this have no place in our society.”
Katrina Caldwell, the university’s vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, echoed the sentiment.
“We know that incidents like this – wherever they happen – can cause or reinforce trauma for members of our community, especially our Black and Brown colleagues, students, and faculty,” Caldwell said. “That this has happened at a moment when there has been such pain over racially motivated violence means we must lean in and offer the support our community needs now, and that we must become better, more informed allies in the urgent work that needs to be done to fight against racism in all its forms.”
In the message he emailed to community members, Daniels underscored what makes racist imagery such as a noose “horrifying and repugnant” and “a direct threat to the Black community at Johns Hopkins and in Baltimore.”
“The noose stands as a deliberate symbol of the murderous terror of thousands of lynchings perpetrated against Black people in America since the beginning of this nation,” he wrote. “It is a singular and terrifying image that through to the present traumatizes and dehumanizes millions of Black people.”
At what he called “a watershed moment in America,” Daniels said the university has been working with faculty, staff and students for several weeks to deepen its “work against racism and in support of racial equity and inclusion” and would continue to do so.
The university will communicate its next steps in dealing with the incident and its implications beginning early next week, Daniels added.
University officials ask anyone with information about the incident to contact Campus Safety and Security at 410-516-4600.