Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ignorance? Hate? Copycats?

From the Chicago Trib:
A Warren Township High School student was charged with disorderly conduct for making "racially charged" statements to two female students, police said. The student drove into a campus parking lot with a noose hanging from his rearview mirror and a Confederate flag displayed in his vehicle, officials said.

In North Carolina last week, four nooses were found dangling from trees and a flagpole at a North Carolina high school, a local newspaper reported. A Louisiana man was charged with inciting a riot after two nooses were found hanging from the back of his pickup truck. Nooses were left this summer in the bag of a black U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet and in the office of a white female officer conducting race-relations training.

On their own, the incidents might not have garnered much attention. But against the backdrop of the Jena 6 case in Louisiana, where nooses found hanging from a tree set off a chain of events that polarized the town, local officials and experts say similar occurrences -- even if they might be unrelated -- can be especially troubling.

"I think what all of these incidents reflect -- from Jena to the reaction to Jena -- is the worsening of race relations in America," said Mark Potok, a hate-group expert at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. "What one would hope is that an event like Jena starts a real dialogue that takes us forward and not backward."

Potok said in recent days the leader of one neo-Nazi group has been fanning the flames on his Web site, encouraging followers to hang nooses in their communities. The site even has a link to news reports of the Gurnee case.

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