ROHNERT PARK, Calif. - Hundreds of students marched against hate on Tuesday on the campus of Sonoma State University, where two nooses were discovered. One was found in a classroom last week, another was found in a swimming pool area earlier this month.
The day of action march comes at an especially sensitive time as the nation is still reeling from recent mass shootings motivated by racism and hatred. The march of nearly 100 students and staff also comes during final exams week and during graduation.
Jason Hill, a student, said the discovery of the nooses was disturbing and did not understand the intentions behind the gesture. "That's not right. There needs to be a punishment."
The school finds itself investigating both incidents as hate crimes, which carry jail time and fines. The noose found in a classroom was in Salazar Hall.
"That's concerning to us is the manner by which they were placed in such a public place really concerns us," said Sonoma State Police Chief Nader Oweis. "We're trying to track down some tips. We take this as being very serious. We don't know what the intention of an individual or individuals that may have placed these nooses on our campus.
The first incident was pretty much discounted by the student body as a prank.
"We go the email last week about another one found in Salazar Hall. Yeah, it seems like that's probably what's going on, and it's a little bit scary," said student Lydia Furtauer. "That's not the culture here. That's not the culture that I've experienced."
"No, I don't see or hear anything negative towards Black people here," said Yuayma Bullard.
Four other nooses have been found in the Bay Area in the last three years at other Bay Area universities; one at Stanford University on May 8, another there in November 2021, as well as July 2019. At University of San Francisco, a noose was found in a dorm in March 2021. That led to an expulsion.
Universities pride themselves on diversity. It's a critical part of their mission.
One of the protesters shouted, "Two nooses in two weeks is not a coincidence!" into a megaphone. Most we spoke with said there should be consequences, and it should never happen again.