Staff at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, a facility jointly operated by NC A&T University and UNCG in southeast Greensboro, discovered a noose on Tuesday morning.
The discovery was made around 9:30 a.m. in an academic building, according to an incident report filed by NC A&T University Police. UNCG Police joined NC A&T Police in responding to the incident, although NC A&T University Police took the lead in the investigation, UNCG Police Chief Paul Lester said.
Lester said a security guard working overnight at the facility for a security company under contract with Gateway University Research Park, which manages the facility, took responsibility for the incident.
“The person responsible came forward on their own,” Lester said. “There was no note or threat or anything. Obviously, it was entirely inappropriate. I believe the individual realized that after the fact. It was just a really bad idea on his part.”
NC A&T University identified the person responsible for the noose as Lindsay Willetts, a white male, formerly employed by Admiralty Security Services in a written response to questions submitted by the Student Government Association.
Lester said the security guard responsible for fashioning the noose found some rope that was being used as part of an experiment by a student.
“It was intended as a joke,” Lester said. “He didn’t intend any harm. We didn’t take it lightly.”
Lester said the security company immediately terminated the responsible person’s employment, and he will no longer be allowed on the premises.
Lester said he doesn’t understand the point of the joke, if that’s indeed what the incident was, or whether there was any racial intent behind the act.
The chancellors at the two universities responded to the incident with formal statements.
“I am deeply disturbed by this incident; such actions have no place at our university or in our society and will certainly not be tolerated,” A&T Chancellor Harold Martin said in a memo on Tuesday.
UNCG Chancellor Frank Gilliam added in an email on Wednesday morning: “Acts like this will not be tolerated on our campus or within our community. It is important that we always be vigilant and never take lightly the words, deeds and symbols of hate and intolerance. We will always treat such unacceptable incidents seriously.”
The Student Government Association described the incident as an act of “white supremacy” in a public statement.
”Not only are we infuriated, but also frightened by this blatant act of racism,” the association said. “Historically, the noose was used to publicly execute African-American people.
”Historically black colleges and universities have and continue to serve as a sanctuary for black students across the country for centuries,” the statement continued. “Racism and white supremacy will never have a place on our campus.”
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