President Bush said Tuesday that recent displays of nooses are disturbing and indicate that some Americans may be losing sight of the suffering that Blacks have endured across the nation.”The era of rampant lynching is a shameful chapter in American history,” Bush said at a Black History Month event at the White House. The event began with serious comments about prejudice and ended with music performed by The Temptations.
“The noose is not a symbol of prairie justice, but of gross injustice,” the president said. “Displaying one is not a harmless prank. Lynching is not a word to be mentioned in jest.”
As a civil society, Americans should agree that noose displays and lynching jokes are “deeply offensive,” Bush said.
“They are wrong,” the president said, referring to such displays and jokes. “And they have no place in America today.”
For decades, the noose was a symbolic part of a campaign of violence, fear and intimidation against Blacks, the president said. Sometimes, he added, it was orchestrated by the law enforcement officers charged with protecting them. Bush also said the noose was a tool for intimidation and killing that conveyed a sense of powerlessness to millions of Blacks throughout the country.
“Fathers were dragged from their homes in the dark of night before the eyes of their terrified children,” he said. “Summary executions were held by torchlight in front of hateful crowds. In many cases, law enforcement officers responsible for protecting the victims were complicit in their deaths.”
The Justice Department says it is actively investigating a number of noose incidents at schools, work places and neighborhoods around the country.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who was at the White House, said he was pleased that Bush addressed the issue.