Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas provided an update Friday at the city’s Safety Building—the beating heart of Milwaukee’s criminal justice system—on the nooses found hanging in Riverside Park. The nooses, holding pictures of murdered Black men, women, and children, were hung in a tree, creating a wave of controversy in the city. The Milwaukee County Sheriff Office (MCSO) became aware of the display on June 20.
Lucas announced that the investigation has concluded and that it found no evidence of criminal misconduct. The sheriff’s office tracked down a local 53-year-old African American man, who said he created the display to spark a conversation in the city. A press release by the MCSO noted, “he further indicated that he wanted to teach his son a lesson about the history of lynchings in America and how they have taken on a different form from America’s past. The man indicated it was never his intention to stir up the kind of controversy that the discovery of the placards has created.”
The man’s display was created as new cases of African Americans found hanging from trees made news in other states. While some have been ruled apparent suicides, other cases are still under investigation. The sheriff stated, “no matter how well-intended the individual was in placing the placards in public as an attempt to begin a dialogue, the takeaway from this, for all of us, is that coming to grips with our country’s recent history and dark past requires an ability to speak meaningful dialogue in a more thoughtful and sensitive manner.”