N.Y. Considers Anti-Noose Legislation

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New York state lawmakers Monday took a step toward making it a felony to etch, draw, paint or otherwise displaying a noose or an image of a noose, typically used to send a threatening racial message.

"We won't tolerate this," said Sen. Dean G. Skelos, a Long Island Republican who sponsored the measure that passed Monday in the Senate. "There is no place for racism and intimidation in America and this rash of incidents clearly demonstrates the need for tough new penalties."

The bill is sponsored in the Democrat-led Assembly by Rules Committee Chairman Joseph Lentol of Brooklyn. The Assembly may convene Tuesday and could consider the bill. There was no immediate comment from the Assembly.

Monday's Senate vote came as New York City police said a black high school teacher in Brooklyn had been targeted with a letter containing racial slurs and a string tied into a noose.

The 44-year-old teacher at Canarsie High School told police she received the letter and the noose through the mail. Police say they have no suspects.

The discovery is among a number of recent incidents involving symbols of lynchings in the Old South.

Nooses were found earlier this month on a black professor's door at Columbia University, outside a post office near ground zero in lower Manhattan and in locations on Long Island. There have been no arrests.

There have been a number of other nooses found in high-profile incidents around the country - in a black Coast Guard cadet's bag, on a Maryland college campus, and in the Jenna Six case in Louisiana, where six black teenagers were charged with beating a white student. The incident happened after nooses were hung from a tree on a high school campus there.

Skelos said he is optimistic the Assembly will pass the bill. He said that, as in the case of Nazi symbols and burning crosses, an intent to threaten or harass would be part of an anti-noose law.
By Michael Gormley
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