HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — After a hangman’s noose was found in a white Mississippi firefighter’s locker, the firefighter was demoted and eventually resigned — but the incident also raised questions about the meanings of symbols.
To some it was a reminder of lynchings that took hundreds of black lives in Mississippi, and it had no place on city property. There was no suggestion that firefighter Shelton Russell had ever displayed it or used it to intimidate anyone.
To Russell, the knotted rope symbolized America’s lawless wild-west culture, where cowboy vigilantes meted out rough justice.
City officials have declined to comment about the noose or make anyone available for interviews.
However, many details emerged during a civil service commission hearing Oct. 10 and in documents released to The Associated Press.