Hangman's Noose Targets Columbia Professor

Students have planned a walkout as police investigate the possible hate crime.

ByABC News

Oct. 10, 2007 — -- New York police are investigating a possible hate crime at Columbia University Tuesday after a hangman's noose was tied to the door of a black professor at Columbia's Teachers College.

The noose was discovered on the door of Teachers College professor Dr. Madonna Constantine, shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to WABC.

Constantine is a professor of psychology and education and is the director of the Cultural Winter Roundtable in psychology and education at the Teachers College. She has written broadly on themes of multiculturalism, racism and ethnicity, according to a list of publications on her online faculty bio.

At a demonstration this afternoon outside the Teachers College, Constantine challenged the person or persons who hanged the hateful symbol.

"Pinning a noose on my door reeks of cowardice and fear on many, many levels," Constantine said to applause. "I would like the perpetrator to know I will not be silent."

Teachers College President Susan Furhman sent an e-mail to students and faculty Tuesday afternoon explaining why police from the city's hate crimes task force were on the campus.

"The TC community and I deplore this hateful act, which violates every Teachers College and societal norm," the e-mail read, which was released to ABC News.

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger also took on the incident in a written statement released to the Columbia Spectator, the campus newspaper. "This is an assault on African-Americans and therefore is an assault on every one of us," Bollinger said in the statement.

Police were checking campus security cameras to determine whether the act was caught on tape. They were also considering the possibility that the noose may have been placed by another faculty member as part of an ongoing dispute with Constantine, WABC reported.

The suspected hate crime comes less than two weeks after a highly controversial appearance at Columbia by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the discovery of racist and Islamophobic graffiti at the Teachers College, ranked the best graduate school education program in the country.

The Columbia incident is the latest in a spate of racial episodes following the hanging of several nooses from a tree on a high school campus in Jena, La., about a year ago. In that highly publicized case, six black students who came to be known as the "Jena 6" were charged in the beating of a white student. The severity of the charges against them prompted a 20,000 person demonstration in the small Louisiana town in September.

Also last month, a noose was found hanging outside a black cultural studies building on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md. The president of Grambling State University said last week that he would seek sanctions against teachers at a university-run elementary school who were photographed re-enacting hangings in a lesson tied to the ongoing Jena 6 controversy.

At a secondary school of Gallaudet University, a college for deaf students in Washington, seven students -- six white and one black -- assaulted a black student and scrawled "KKK" and swastikas all over his body with a marker. The head of the U.S. Coast Guard is investigating a July incident at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut in which two small nooses were found inside the sea bag of a black cadet aboard a tall ship.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events