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FBI investigating apparent noose found in black firefighter's locker

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jun 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-27 19:36:32-04

The FBI is investigating after an apparent noose was found in the locker of a black firefighter in Bloomington, Minnesota, a spokesperson for the bureau confirmed to CBS News. The incident was first made public by the city's mayor, who said Saturday that "a piece of rope resembling a noose" was discovered in the locker on June 15.

"I regret to inform you about some horrible news regarding an incident at one of the City's fire stations," Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse said in a statement. "A piece of rope tied into what appears to be a crude noose was discovered in the gear locker of a Black firefighter at a Bloomington fire station on June 15."

Bloomington is only about 10 miles away from Minneapolis, where the death of George Floyd set off worldwide protests against police brutality and racism.

Busse said the incident was reported to fire department leadership on June 23.

"I am disgusted, angry, and embarrassed by this cowardly act. To be clear, this incident is very serious and is being dealt with aggressively," Busse said. "The City of Bloomington, including the Fire Department, is committed to being a safe and respectful place to work for all employees. We will not tolerate or, in any way, condone such behavior."

The mayor noted the "history of nooses being used as a symbol of hate and intimidation and a tool of horrific violence," and said he recognizes "that learning about this incident may be particularly traumatic for our Black community members."

Another apparent noose was discovered earlier this month in the garage of Bubba Wallace, the only black full-time driver in NASCAR, who also helped lead the push to ban the Confederate flag from the organization's future events. The FBI investigated the incident, but concluded that the rope had been there since October 2019 and no crime had been committed.

Wallace told CBS News in an interview that it was a relief he was not targeted, but said he doubted the FBI's conclusion that the rope was part of a "garage pull."

Bloomington's fire department's chief, Ulie Seal, said the act of "hate, intimidation, and aggression" will not be tolerated. "The firefighter who brought this to our attention has demonstrated extreme strength and bravery and has done the right thing," Seal said.

Busse said the incident emphasized that the city needs to continue prioritizing equity and inclusion.

"While the important work of racial reconciliation is being done around the country and right here at home, it is clear there is much more work to be done. I recognize that there is work to do in the City of Bloomington, both in our organization and in our community," Busse wrote.

"If we truly want to be a safe and inclusive City, we can't shy away from doing the work," he said. "So although I am disappointed and disheartened, I remain committed to acting courageously to advance racial equity. I invite you to join me in doing the same."