Hundreds of Columbia University students and faculty members rallied on campus Wednesday to support a professor, who found a noose on her office door Tuesday, local media reported.
"Hanging the noose on my door reeks of cowardice and fear on many, many levels. I would like the perpetrator to know I will not be silent," said Madonna Constantine, a professor at Teachers College of the university who lectures on racial injustice, among other things.
She said at the rally that she was upset that the community "has been exposed to such an unbelievably vile incident."
The rally in front of Teachers College was followed by a closed-door meeting for staff and students only. Students said they talked about everything from the noose itself to racism, which some said exists on campus, but is not often discussed, according to the report.
Columbia University's president Lee Bollinger condemned "this horrible action" in a statement, saying that "This is an assault on African Americans and therefore it is an assault on every one of us."
"I hope it is not a growing thing," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "I think the noose thing is despicable and disgraceful. I don't know whether it was a hate crime or a very sick joke, but we take every one of these very seriously and our hate crimes unit is investigating," he said at a press conference Wednesday launching the city's first global communications campaign to promote tourism.
Detectives and the New York Police Department's hate crime unit were investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, police said.