WASHINGTON - A noose was found inside the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture on Wednesday.
The noose was located by a tourist at around 1 p.m. in the museum's segregation exhibition. The exhibition was shut down for about an hour before reopening.
"At one point while we were there, I saw a big ruckus with two security guards that were running through," said Pamela Fitzpatrick, who was at the museum with her 12-year-old daughter.
U.S. Park Police removed the noose and are investigating the incident.
"I am concerned about this act of cowardice just as my director Lonnie Bunch is as he said in his statement," said Kinshasha Holman-Conwill, the museum's deputy director. "I'm also encouraged that already we are getting incredible support from our online community and from friends and colleagues who are showing solidarity with us in support of what the museum does."
David Skorton, the secretary of the Smithsonian, said in part in an email to staff:
"Unfortunately, I must again share with you some deeply disturbing news. Earlier this afternoon, a noose was found and removed from a public exhibition space at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
"The Smithsonian family stands together in condemning this act of hatred and intolerance, especially repugnant in a museum that affirms and celebrates the American values of inclusion and diversity. We will not be intimidated. With new urgency, we will tell the story of our nation and all its people. We will continue to fight this sort of ignorance with knowledge. Cowardly acts like these will not, for one moment, prevent us from the vital work we do. We will remain vigilant and, in spite of these deplorable acts, we will become a stronger institution for all Americans.
This comes after several recent noose-related incidents that have occurred around the D.C. region. Last Friday, a noose was found hanging from a tree outside of the Hirshhorn Museum, another museum part of the Smithsonian Institution.
Back in April, a noose was found inside a fraternity house at the University of Maryland.
A few days later, bananas hanging by string in the shape of nooses were found at three locations on the campus of American University in Washington D.C. The bananas were marked with the word "Harambe" and with the letters representing Alpha Kappa Alpha, a predominantly African American sorority. The hate crime incident happened on the same day the university's first black female government president took office.