NAACP demands action after noose found in boys’ locker room at RHAM High School
Members of the NAACP in Connecticut said Tuesday they are looking for law enforcement to pursue an arrest and a conviction after RHAM High School staff found a noose hanging in the boys’ locker room on Friday.
Connecticut NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile and Windham/Willimantic NAACP President Leah Ralls spoke outside of RHAM High School in Hebron early Tuesday afternoon with a crowd of supporters around them. They demanded police and school administration seriously investigate the incident and seek an arrest.
On Friday, Colin McNamara, superintendent for Regional School District 8, said a staff member found a noose hanging in the boys’ locker room. The staff member removed the noose and contacted the school administration. The district then contacted the Hebron Police Department and the Connecticut State Police to begin an investigation, McNamara said.
The school did not go into lockdown or any special protocols once the noose was found, according to McNamara.
“I’m here to say that the NAACP is expecting law enforcement to pursue a conviction in this case,” Ralls said. “We are tired of things like this being dismissed as child’s play. This is not child’s play. This is a serious life-threatening episode. A noose is a weapon just like a gun. If it was a gun, schools would be closed today.”
Ralls said the NAACP is expecting state, federal and local law enforcement to “pursue a conviction” and consider the incident as a hate crime. Esdaile said he wants to make sure police follow all “protocols and precautions” and are investigating the incident fully.
“This is a very, very, very serious incident. This is very, very, very deep-rooted. The Black community has to take this serious,” Esdaile said. “We’re not going to wait until a person is hanging from one of those nooses.”
He called for action from the administration. The NAACP is set to meet with McNamara Tuesday afternoon, Esdaile said. He said he is hoping to find out what the school is doing in response to the incident.
“What’s his plan, what’s he doing?’ Esdaile said. “What’s he doing in reference to educating and informing the community about this atrocious situation happening in his jurisdiction?”
McNamara declined to answer media questions Tuesday, citing the active police investigation, but provided a written statement.
“As a school district, we do not and will not tolerate harassment or any other inappropriate conduct toward any of students,” McNamara said in the statement. “That sort of behavior has absolutely no place in a school setting.”
He said the administration contacted state and local authorities “immediately,” and the school is cooperating with the police. He said anyone involved in the incident “will be held accountable.”
The district set up an anonymous tip line at 860-228-5319 so those with information can report it, McNamara said.
McNamara said the district “fully expects to leverage this opportunity to come together and address this issue through education, training and community conversations.”
The school district is also providing counseling for students who were emotionally affected Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.