Remnants of paper lanterns left over from a campus event were mistaken for nooses and set off a hate crime investigation at the University of Delaware on Wednesday.
Interim university President Nancy Targett initially called the appearance of the pieces of string with metal hangers at the end a "deplorable act" and "hateful display" when they were found by a student hanging in trees in front of a campus building Tuesday night. But in a statement posted online around daybreak Wednesday, Targett says the investigation found that the items weren't instruments of a hate crime, but were left over from an event on The Green, a campus open space.
Still, Targett says the incident revealed the campus' sensitivity to the potential issue and shows a need for "continuing dialogue." She invited the community to gather Wednesday afternoon.
The discovery initially sparked an outcry on social media from students and others.
The News Journal of Wilmington reported that the lanterns were noticed one day after a local Black Lives Matter group protested an on-campus speech by Fox News contributer Katie Pavlich. In an appearance on "The Kelly File" earlier this month, Pavlich condemned Black Lives Matter as a movement that "promotes the execution of police officers."
"We are both saddened and disturbed that this deplorable act has taken place on our campus,” Targett's initial statement read, in part. “This hateful display stands in stark contrast to Monday night’s peaceful protest and discussion. We condemn this despicable action and ask everyone in our community to stand together against intolerance and hate.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.