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No Criminal Charges For 'Young Teens' Who Left Noose At Amherst College

Hundreds of Amherst College students rallied against racism following the discovery of a noose on Pratt Field in 2017.
Diane Lederman
The Republican / masslive.com
Hundreds of Amherst College students rallied against racism following the discovery of a noose on Pratt Field Labor Day weekend 2017.

Prosecutors will not to press hate crime charges -- or any charges at all -- against two juveniles who left a noose on the Amherst College football field over Labor Day weekend. 

A noose is a well-recognized symbol of racially motivated lynchings.

But Deputy District Attorney Janice Healy said that after an extensive investigation, she is convinced the juveniles responsible for leaving the rope just did not know that.

"We fully recognize the power of that symbol," she said in an interview Wednesday. "But from everything we've looked at in this case, they did not recognize the power of that symbol, and were not directing it at anyone." 

The juveniles formed it into a noose, Healy said, because it was a "complicated knot" one of them knew how to tie.

"I want people to understand that it's a situation that was more of an impulsive act borne out of their age, and their lack of judgment and cultural ignorance," Healy said.

A spokesperson for the district attorney said the juveniles were "young teens."

Healy said they will write letters of apology to the Amherst College community.

In a statement, college president Biddy Martin said while she "respects" the district attorney's decision, it "does not change the fact that the incident was deeply offensive, anxiety-producing, and painful."

Student Not Buying It

Amherst College student Lindsay Turner is the senior chair of the Black Student Union. She said she does not believe "for a second" the kids did not know the meaning behind the noose.

"Now I'm not saying send them to jail for 70 years," Turner said. "But I'm saying that there needs to be some kind of disciplinary action so that it doesn't set a precedent for this being some kind of acceptable behavior, because that's exactly what's going to happen."

Still, Turner said she was not surprised by the DA's decision.

"It's classic that people get off for doing blatant displays of racial intimidation and not being properly punished for it," she said. "That is something that has been repeated infinitely throughout American history."

Sam Hudzik has overseen local news coverage on New England Public Media since 2013. He manages a team of about a dozen full- and part-time reporters and hosts.
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