The Naval Academy has opened an investigation after an employee reported finding a noose in Rickover Hall on Aug. 28, the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington.

A rope tied in what appeared to be a noose was found in a portion of Rickover Hall where workers are installing duct work and piping. It could be part of a hoisting system for that work, Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said Friday afternoon in a statement sent to the Caucus of African-American Leaders.

The group brought the investigation to the attention of The Capital a short time later.

Buck wrote that the academy takes allegations of racism very seriously and is quickly working to determine the facts around the report, as well as why the incident wasn't “brought to light sooner.”

He assigned a preliminary investigating officer as soon as he learned about the incident, he said in the statement.

Photos of from the scene were anonymously shared with the Caucus of African-American Leaders, which issued a statement Friday commending the academy for launching an investigation.

“Nooses, like swastikas, conjure up images of a dark past. We appreciate the fact that the U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck has instructed his staff to look into this matter,” the group's convener Carl Snowden said.

Local activists have pressed state, county and city officials to recognize lynchings in the county. A marker will be unveiled Saturday at Whitmore Park in Annapolis to acknowledge the lynching of at least five black men in Anne Arundel County.

The county has struggled in recent years with racist incidents involving nooses.

Last year officials at Chesapeake High School in Pasadena found a Confederate flag and a noose in a student's truck on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, April 4, 2018.

In May of 2017, a noose was found hung from a light fixture outside an African-American teacher's room at Crofton Middle School. Two men were charged with trespassing and a hate crime.

Conner Prout pleaded guilty to one hate crime charge in a unique deal where he served community service under the guidance of the Anne Arundel County chapter of the NAACP.

John Havermann of Crofton was found not guilty of a hate crime in January, after pleading guilty to trespassing. The state's hate crime law was updated after that case as it only applied when individuals were targeted, not groups of people. State lawmakers changed the law in 2018 to include groups of people.


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