Police: Juveniles left noose on Amherst College athletic field

  • Amherst College President Biddy Martin speaks during commencement in May. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

AMHERST — Hundreds of Amherst College students gathered on campus Tuesday in opposition to racism after someone tied a rope into a noose and left it on the college’s football field last week.

John Carter, Amherst College’s chief of police, sent an email to students, faculty and staff on Sept. 7 alerting them that a rope used for athletic training was found tied into a noose on Pratt Field. The incident, he said, occurred between 6 p.m. on Sept. 4 and 6 a.m. on Sept. 5. In a subsequent email this Monday, Carter confirmed that the department identified two juveniles as responsible for the noose.

“The juveniles are not members of the Amherst College community,” Carter wrote.

Tuesday’s peaceful demonstration against racism on campus drew more than 300 students to Valentine Quad, according to the college’s website.

The case has now been turned over to Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan’s office, but a spokeswoman said the office “can’t comment on specific details” because the investigation is ongoing. Because the suspects are juveniles, the DA’s office is not releasing their identities.

“I want to assure you that neither of these two individuals will be allowed on our campus again,” Amherst College President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin wrote in a statement to the college community. “The College is issuing no-trespass orders and they will be barred from setting foot on campus.”

Martin said the DA’s office will now determine whether the act could be considered a hate crime under state law, adding that she is aware of the “fear, anger, and despair” the racist actions caused in the Amherst College community.

“Despite its gravity, this case is unfortunately not isolated from many other experiences of prejudice and discrimination that our students of color have faced and continue to face,” Martin wrote. “I see this moment as an opportunity to dedicate ourselves more concertedly and creatively to fighting bigotry and discrimination and to creating the inclusive intellectual community that every student at Amherst is promised.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.