No Suspects Yet In Noose Incident

Bill Perkins

October 11, 2007

As hundreds of students, professors, and city leaders gathered Wednesday to protest the hanging of a noose on the office door of an African American Teachers College professor, police said that there were no suspects yet in the criminal investigation of the incident.

Officials said Wednesday that they were considering the incident aggravated harassment as a hate crime. Investigators reported that the noose had not been on the door of Professor Madonna Constantine’s office as late as 11:30 p.m. Monday night and that it was found on Tuesday by one of Constantine’s female colleagues, who reported it to the police. The NYPD, which noted that this was the first noose case in at least five years, said officials are interviewing all of professors in Constantine’s department.

Meanwhile, Columbia’s campus continued to react to the event. At an afternoon rally outside of Teachers College, Constantine made her first public appearance since the hate crime was perpetrated. As Constantine exited Zankel Hall, the crowd exploded with cheers.

Constantine thanked those present for the "overwhelming support" for her in light of the "heinous and highly upsetting incident."

"I would like us to stay strong," Constantine said. "I would like the perpetrator to know that I will not be silent. Hanging a noose on my door reeks of cowardice on many, many levels."

Teachers College students held signs and chanted within police barriers on 120th Street. After a prayer and a moment of silence, the students marched around Columbia’s campus and the surrounding streets chanting.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and New York state senator Bill Perkins spoke out from Zankel’s steps. Perkins discussed the symbolism of the noose, adding that he was troubled that someone with a CUID and knowledge of TC’s labyrinthine halls perpetrated the incident. "It’s as if a burning cross was placed on the campus of Columbia University," he said. "This sounds like an inside job."

While top TC administrators—including TC President Susan Fuhrman and Provost Thomas James—were present, Columbia University representatives were not. "Where is Bollinger? Where is Bollinger?" one protester chanted.

Bollinger, meanwhile, was at a meeting with a number of student leaders— chiefly representing cultural groups—where students grilled him on his handling of the incident and voiced sentiments that Columbia’s campus was hostile towards students of color. While Bollinger said he offered his support to Teachers College, he emphasized that it was a separate institution from Columbia.

The Chaplain’s Office and the University Provost have scheduled a common meal in response to the TC hate crime for Thursday at 6 p.m. in Earl Hall.
Tom Faure and Josh Hirschland contributed to this article.