Bronx residents were left shaken Thursday night after discovering what appeared to be multiple nooses hanging in a public park.
According to the Gothamist, Rafael Pena and Alexandra Haridopolos noticed the ropes at around 9:30 p.m. after entering the east side of Van Cortlandt Park. The pair said they believed the apparent nooses were meant to be seen, and were, perhaps, intended to instill some fear on the eve of Juneteenth.
"I've lived in the Bronx all my life and I've never seen something like this," Pena told the outlet Friday. "It felt like a message, especially with Juneteenth being today."
Gothatmist reports a third witness notified police about their discovery, but Pena and Haridopolos claim the responding officers didn't appear too concerned or alarmed. However, one of the officers allegedly asked Pena to stop taking photos of the scene because it was an active investigation. The Gothatmist reached out to the department on Friday, but was told there was no police report on the incident. NYPD spokesperson Sgt. Vincent Marchese later confirmed that officers had responded to the calls, but determined the ropes were nothing more than "a type of string to hold a piñata."
Pena and Haridopolos said they were unconvinced with the department's explanation, and pointed the recent death of Dominique Alexander, a 27-year-old Black man whose body was found hanging June 9 in Manhattan. Investigators ruled the death a suicide; But, just like Robert Fuller's death, some have suspected foul play.
"Just last week you had a young man hung up on a tree in Manhattan," said Pena, referring to Alexander. "It's really disturbing shit."