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School district offers support services as police investigate possible bias crime.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Police are investigating the discovery of a noose found hanging from the roof at Benson Polytechnic High School Friday morning, Feb. 21.Portland Police say a noose was found at Benson Polytechnic High School Friday morning.

According to Portland Public Schools, a contractor doing work at the school contacted a custodian upon finding a noose Friday morning, Feb. 21, on the school's roof outside.

School resource officers with Portland Police Bureau's Youth Services Division responded to the Northeast Portland high school to investigate.

"Officers consulted with the Portland Police Bureau's Bias Crimes Detectives and School Resource Officers are continuing to investigate the incident," a news release from police states.

The school district and police say the incident is being investigated as a possible bias crime, rather than an attempt at self-harm.

"I didn't have any information leading me to believe this was a suicide attempt," Officer Carlos Ibarra, a school resource officer, said Friday evening. Ibarra said the noose was constructed from rope. He said school staff were interviewed, but only to gather information. No students or staff had been interviewed as potential suspects as of early Friday evening.

District officials say they're offering support services to students and staff.

"We understand that an image of a noose, with its ties to racism and violent acts toward African Americans and others, may trigger subsequent trauma," a letter sent out from Benson staff and other district administrators states. "PPS follows a specific protocol to respond to hate incidents. As per our protocol, we will have district support services staff on campus on Monday, supporting students and school staff who need it."

The letter went on to denounce the incident as "an affront to our core values of racial equity and social justice, respect, honesty, and integrity."

"We do not tolerate hate in our community," the letter added.

Oregon law defines a bias crime as "any hostile expression that may be motivated by another person's race, color, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity."

Police are asking for the public's help for additional information about the incident at Benson. Anyone with information can contact PPB's non-emergency line at (503)823-3333 and reference case number 20-60092.

This story has been updated with additional information from police.

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