DAVIS (CBS) – Someone hung a large noose made of elastic tubing from a football goal post at Davis Senior High School last week, and now police are investigating if the act was meant as a hate crime or just a bad joke.

“It could be considered a hate crime, or somebody sending a message to somebody else,” student Isaiah Matthews said Tuesday.

“As far as emotional damage to the community, it’s a serious matter,” Davis Police Lt. Paul Doroshov said.

The Davis Joint Unified School District believes someone hung the noose between Thursday evening and Friday morning, when it was discovered by a school employee. Many wonder whether the culprit was a student just pulling a prank.

“We have no idea who did it, whether it’s students or adults,” Superintendent Winfred Roberson said. “Nevertheless, it’s something that’s not tolerated here.”

Activist Dr. Jann Murray-Garcia says it’s important to talk about why putting the noose out on the field is hurtful.

“A noose is a symbol of terror,” she said. “You can’t let these incidents go unresponded to.”

In the past few years, Davis has had its share of hate crimes, including swastikas being hung on the campus of UC Davis.

The superintendent said the lesson here is tolerance.

“I would encourage people to get to know one another,” he said. “I believe signs of hate and symbols of hate come about again from fear and ignorance, and that is something we don’t promote here in Davis.”

A community meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the high school library to allow for discussion about the incident.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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