“The rope always means much more than a knot in a rope,” said Jack Shuler, an associate professor at Denison University and author of “The Thirteenth Twist: A Rope Story.”
“The rope was a tool used to kill people and therefore it is a threat, it is violent speech,” added Shuler. The rope has become the new burning cross. “
Here is why a rope has the power to scare people, and how it is still used today as a symbol of hatred.
It is a symbol of the lynching history of the United States.
Most racial lynchings took place in the south, where many whites felt threatened by the newly discovered freedoms of black peoples and tried to intimidate and control them. Black men were hanged from trees, beaten to death or lynched in any other way for any alleged misdemeanor.
These lynchings were not even considered murder, according to Shuler.
“Lynching is not the same as private murder. It means extrajudicial murder for an alleged crime committed by three or more people,” Shuler told CNN. “There must be some evidence that a community supported the act, either actively or through its collective inaction.”
Hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan were behind many of the killings. But in some places, entire communities would gather to see blacks being tortured and hanged, Shuler said.
“Although most of the time it is associated with being hanged by a rope, the lynching also involved victims tortured to death, burned alive or riddled with bullet holes,” he said. “Typically, the victim was hanged and then the body was mutilated.”
Lynching in the United States decreased in the late 1960s. But as a holdover from that shameful era, the rope is still alive.
People understand exactly what it means
The intention behind the use of a tie is crystal clear.
“If you knew anything about the history of the American lynching,” Shuler said, “then you wouldn’t tie that knot without doing it for the person expressed to threaten another person.”
And whether they realize it or not, every time a person ties a rope and hangs it, they send a message.
“Everyone knows what an hangman’s noose represents, especially to the African American community. Either they have been living under a rock or they just don’t care.”
The United States has seen a spate of rope incidents in recent months.
On Saturday, the laminated cards showing photographs of Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Botham Jean, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, all black people killed in encounters with the police or private citizens, were found hanging from knots in a tree in Milwaukee The Milwaukee Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
And these are just the most recent episodes.
And lynching is not yet a federal crime
“It is important to remember that the lynchings did not end because Congress passed laws to prevent them. In fact, Congress never acted,” Shuler said.
Many American whites cannot understand the intensity of this heartfelt story for African Americans, Shuler said.
“Lynching is an egregious and historic act that has been perpetrated against African Americans. We are sensitive to ropes, we are sensitive to hatred, we are sensitive to the fact that systemic racism across the United States continues, and these ropes are a representation of that “We African Americans are angry, horrified, upset and fed up,” said Farmer, the leader of the Black Panther.
“It brings back terror, disrespect,” he added. “It brings back all the memories of crimes committed against our ancestors and against us to this day.”