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Racist symbol left day after former cop Derek Chauvin convicted of murdering George Floyd

Officials say a rope that appeared to be tied in the form of a noose was found at the Metro South Transfer Station in Oregon City on April 21.

Staff at Metro South came upon the noose Wednesday night, April 21, in what they said was a location visible to employees, contractors and the public. This is the second time a noose has been found at Metro South within a year. Authorities were unable to track down who was responsible for the first.

An investigation is underway into who left the second noose. The investigation will be led by Metro's Labor and Employee Relations team in the Human Resources department, but they will call in outside authorities if needed.

Metro officials say they will begin to gather evidence and conduct witness interviews within the next few days. They expect the investigation to take about two weeks — but acknowledge that the timeline may change based on any findings.

"We will do everything in our power to get to the bottom of this, but I want all of us to prepare for the possibility that we may not have enough evidence to come to a conclusion one way or another," Metro's Chief Operating Officer Marissa Madrigal said in an email to employees.

The timing of this incident is important to note for context.

The day before the noose was found, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in the murder of George Floyd last May. Floyd's death was the catalyst that ignited a summer of protests for racial justice and spurred countless conversations of police brutality and use of force — something that many people in marginalized communities have been discussing for years.

Between the Chauvin trial and additional cases of officers shooting minorities coming to light in recent weeks, tensions are rising once again.

"The timing of this incident is not lost on me. I wrote to you earlier this week about hope, hope that our collective trajectory had inched closer toward justice. Subsequent events of the week, including additional police shootings and deaths, have hit hard," Madrigal wrote in the email. "Symbols of hate and hate speech oppress by threatening life and are intended to scare and dominate. It is scary, infuriating and it happens EVERY DAY to Black people, Brown people, Indigenous people, Asian people, immigrants and anyone who doesn't present with a light-skinned phenotype. That is why I am personally resolved to find the person or persons responsible and do everything I can to protect you from harm like this in the future."

Madrigal said supervisors received coaching and guidance on how to navigate this situation, and they are planning to provide on-site support and counseling for their impacted employees.

"Take care of yourself and each other," Madrigal said. "This experience is not the same for all of us. A noose is a particularly upsetting reminder of our nation's failure to protect Black people from the violence of white supremacy."

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