Police are investigating three cutout effigies of two black men and a woman hanging from nooses Saturday morning on the University of California at Berkeley campus, police said.
UC Berkeley police spokeswoman Claire Holmes said UC police got a call around 9:10 a.m. about two effigies hanging from Sather Gate and quickly removed them.
The department also received a report of a third effigy on the campanile, the large tower on UC Berkeley’s campus, but it was already gone by the time police arrived, Holmes said.
Holmes said the intent of the effigies is not clear.
At least two effigies had the words, “I can’t breathe,” according to Holmes and photos shared through Twitter. According to Holmes:
“Clearly those are words that are being used as part of the protest today against police violence. But this could also potentially have been racially motivated.”
Hundreds of demonstrators met this afternoon in Berkeley and marched to Oakland to join the “Millions March,” part of a series of protests across the nation denouncing police brutality.
There was also a “Ferguson2Cal” rally scheduled for noon in Berkeley at Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus, according to community organizers.
Holmes said the police are trying to find out who put the effigies on campus and why.
If the effigies were racially motivated, Holmes said the police would seek criminal charges:
“We are in dialogue with students who are upset and want to have a climate on the campus where everybody feels safe and are able to be part of the community. If it was racially motivated, this is not tolerable on.”
The vice chancellor of student affairs will be working with students over the coming week to create opportunities to process the incident, Holmes said.
“We are encouraging anyone with information about this to come forward to the UC police department,” Holmes said.