California lawmaker's bill targets use of noose as threat

A California lawmaker is pushing to crack down on one of the nation's oldest and most chilling symbols of violent discrimination against African Americans — the hangman's noose.

Used by mobs in the past to kill, the knotted rope occasionally is hung these days by racists, white supremacists or others as a form of intimidation and threat of force.

"We want to see it completely stopped," said Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter, a Rialto Democrat who was born in Mississippi and said her relatives know the noose's message well.

"My grandfather, aunts, uncles, friends – they've all experienced those kinds of incidents," Carter said.

Carter has proposed Assembly Bill 412, which could land offenders a one-year jail sentence and $5,000 fine for intimidation from hanging a noose on a victim's property or at a school, park or workplace.

"We consider hanging a noose a hate crime," said Alice Huffman, president of the California conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which asked Carter to introduce the bill.

AB 412 focuses directly on nooses hung as intimidation, not as a prank, political statement or as free speech on the hangers' personal property.

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