A noose was discovered hanging from a tree on the Bryan Center Plaza early Wednesday morning.
Reports on social media showed a photo of the noose, made with a thin yellow rope, with several students linking the incident to racially charged motivations.
The noose was removed from the tree prior to 2:45 a.m. Wednesday. Two police officers were on the scene speaking to a group of several concerned students shortly after reports surfaced online.
The incident comes approximately two weeks after students allegedly chanted a racist song at a black female student, which prompted President Richard Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth to send an email to the student body affirming Duke's commitment to racial equality.
The Duke People of Color Caucus, an anonymous group that emerged following the alleged chanting, released the following statement on Tumblr along with a photo of the noose:
To all black students, staff, faculty, and/or Durhamites on campus and in the area: Please take care of yourselves and each other. This campus is not a safe space, and has proven beyond any doubt that it is a hostile environment for any and all black people.
One reblogger of the post commented, "I don't feel safe on my own campus."
In an email to the student body Wednesday morning, Vice President of Student Affairs Larry Moneta said that he "can't begin to describe the disgust and anger" he felt upon learning of the incident early Wednesday.
"To whomever committed this hateful and stupid act, I just want to say that if your intent was to create fear, it will have the opposite effect," Moneta said. "Today, fear will be among the reactions students, and especially, students of color, will have. Be assured that the Duke community will provide all the support necessary to help us all get through this. In time, each of these cowardly acts of bias and hatred will strengthen our resolve to love and support each other."
Moneta said in the email that appropriate investigations are underway and if anyone responsible is identified, they will be held responsible.
The Duke University Police Department deferred comment to the Office of News and Communications.
Keith Lawrence, executive director of news and communications, confirmed that police are investigating the incident but would not comment on contents of the investigation.
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“I’m sure that they are doing everything they can,” Lawrence said.
The police report from the incident has not been made public.
According to a Duke News statement, a forum is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday on the steps of Duke Chapel to discuss the incident. Speakers will include President Richard Brodhead, Provost Sally Kornbluth and faculty and student leaders.
This story was last updated at 11:06 a.m.
Check back for updates to this developing story.