Police probe noose outside Holyoke school as possible hate crime

  • Recorder photo/Ann Forcier Recorder photo/Ann Forcier

Staff Writer
Published: 9/18/2019 8:06:17 PM

HOLYOKE — A noose found hanging in front of the Maurice A. Donahue School on Monday is being investigated by police as a possible hate crime.

A joint statement from Mayor Alex B. Morse and Holyoke Public Schools Superintendent/Receiver Stephen Zrike said the noose was found hanging from a tree near the Whiting Farms Road sidewalk in front of the elementary school. The noose was not visible from the school and officials believe it was removed before students saw it, the statement said.

“I am frustrated and saddened that such an act would happen here in Holyoke,” Morse said in the statement. “Our community must continue to stand up to hatred at every occurrence. We must meet that hatred with the love and respect that every person in our city deserves.”

Zrike echoed the mayor’s comments in the statement, saying the school system is committed to inclusivity.

“This is a deeply disturbing incident that runs contrary to the values of our school community and the city of Holyoke,” he said.

Although there was no written threat along with the noose, the statement said the act was “no less demonstrative” and there is “zero tolerance for bias-based conduct or discrimination against any member of our community.”

“The noose is a visual symbol of violent racial hatred directed at African Americans, rooted in the history of lynching and slavery,” the statement read. “As a community that treasures each of our employees and students, and values the diversity of our community as its greatest strength, we are outraged by this abhorrent action.”

The department will ensure that students and staff will have access to “appropriate support,” the statement said.

Anyone with questions regarding the investigation or information to share is encouraged to call the Holyoke Police Department at 413-322-6900.

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.


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