The noose found hanging on campus was the topic of a community meeting Wednesday at the Davis Senior High School (DHS) library.
Around 50 people showed up to the 7 p.m. meeting on West 14th Street to discuss the incident, which involved the discovery of a black noose hanging over the south goal post at DHS’ football field Friday.
Jann Murray-García, president of the group Davis Blacks for Effective Community Action organized the event. She is also the parent of a junior at DHS and a sixth grader at César Chávez Elementary School.
García led a teach-in at the meeting, which focused on what constitutes a hate crime.
She said this incident falls under the legal definition of a hate crime since California Penal Code 11411 defines hate crimes as any unlawful action against the person or property of another committed substantially because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation. The penal code makes it illegal to hang or display a noose, swastika, or burning a cross in a public place.
A hate incident is defined as a non-criminal act, including words directed against another person, based on the person’s actual or perceived group membership. They include epithets, distribution of hate material in a public place, posting of hate material that doesn’t result in property damage and display of offensive material on one’s own property.
García said prank or not, it’s illegal to hang a noose in California and involves a $5,000 fine and prison time.
“The law exists because outcome is terrible for people,” she said. “You need to draw a line as community and say you can’t hide, you will go to jail for sake of people you’re terrorizing… You can’t turn your head or say they’re making too big a deal out of it; we don’t have to live this history again.”
Lt. Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police Department said that the police are following some leads and that most of these types of cases are broken through rumor because the perpetrator brags.
Mayor Joe Krovoza was in attendance, as well as Mayor Pro Tem Rochelle Swanson.
“For the city, this is not a fine moment,” Krovoza said. “This is a community issue, not just a school issue. The most powerful response can come from youth of community. I want to challenge youth to say that this is not okay if it was youth who committed this crime.”
Krovoza stressed how the human race is one family, fundamental science we can trace with our DNA.
Whitney Helvick, who graduated from DHS last year said she felt it was sad something like this would happen in Davis, a place she normally considers safe.
“Doing this during summer when you think you couldn’t get caught by school officials is just really messed up,” Helvick said. “It’s not funny at all, it’s serious.
Bill Calhoun, a former math and history teacher was the first African American teacher in Davis. He said that there should be a more diverse group of teachers in Davis to expose kids to models of diversity.
Robin Murray, a Davis parent who attended the meeting, said kids need to be taught acceptance over tolerance.
“We don’t put kids in boxes,” said. “We need to bring the issue to forefront and accept one another.”
Hate crimes in Davis have occurred in 2002, twice in 2003, 2004, 2005 and twice in 2007. The 2005 crime that went from West to East Davis resulted in almost $30,000 worth of damage.
García compiled an e-mail list during the meeting for updates on further action that would be taken and decided to write a letter to the editor of The Davis Enterprise in response to the incident since taking out an advertisement would be too expensive, costing $2,000.
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