The misunderstanding started on Monday when seven nooses were found hanging in a tree outside of the Capitol of Mississippi. The media immediately presumed it was a message of hate.
“State and federal investigators are trying to find out who hung seven nooses in trees outside the Mississippi Capitol early Monday, a day before a U.S. Senate runoff that has focused attention on the state’s history of racist violence.
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety says the nooses were accompanied by handwritten signs referring to Tuesday’s election as well as to lynchings — most of them in the state’s turbulent past, but also one recent case that remains under investigation, of a black man whose body was found hanging in central Mississippi. The department posted photos of the signs on social media and sought information about them from the public.
One sign referred to the Tuesday runoff between appointed Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is white, and Democrat Mike Espy, who is black. The sign also read: “We need someone who respects the lives of lynch victims.”
Another sign read: “We’re hanging nooses to remind people that times haven’t changed.”
In the early hours of Monday morning, authorities believe several suspects were responsible for posting the signs shown here on the lawn of the Mississippi State Capitol, along with several nooses. We need your help to ID those involved.
But the perpetrators much to everyone’s surprise were actually using their harsh display to support Espy.
The display was in reference to a nasty remark Espy’s rival, Cindy Hyde-Smith had made earlier in November.
“A Mississippi senator was caught on video brashly joking that she’d be a rapt spectator at a public hanging — prompting her opponent in a runoff election, who is black, to blast the comment as “reprehensible.”
“If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith can be seen saying in a clip that was posted Sunday on Twitter by journalist and blogger Lamar White Jr.”
“Hyde-Smith apologized “to anyone that was offended” by the comment, which she intended as an “exaggerated expression of regard” for a local rancher who invited her to speak.”
If you look at the signs it seems apparent that the intention was to support Espy. But I guess the nature of the display immediately made people jump to conclusions.