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Patton Police still investigating ‘possible hate incident’ toward 2 Black Penn State faculty members

Old Main

Old Main on Monday, March 15, 2021.

Original Story: April 27, 2021

Updated at 5 p.m. on April 28, 2021

On Tuesday, Penn State President Eric Barron released a statement to the Penn State community in response to "a very serious possible hate incident" faced by two Black Penn State faculty members in the College of the Liberal Arts and the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

According to the statement, the hate incident occurred "outside their home" and was "deeply distressing to them and their family."

Tyler Jolley, chief of police for the Patton Township Police Department, said the Centre County Emergency Communications Center received a call Monday morning at 9 a.m. for “possible harassment” in the Grays Woods neighborhood.

The faculty members reported a rope was found hanging in a small tree directly behind their residence and described it to officers as a “noose” that was placed there within the last 24 hours, according to a release.

Jolley said the rope was collected by Patton Police to begin investigation. Monday afternoon, officers returned to the neighborhood to canvas for suspicious weekend activity, making contact with one of the faculty members’ neighbors.

After seeing the rope, the neighbor indicated it was from a swing set on their property, and officers confirmed this after comparison. One of the neighbor’s children then came outside, alleging they had thrown the rope into the woods. Patton Police determined after initial investigation there was “no kind of crime committed at all” and that the rope “happened” to fall on the tree in the faculty members’ backyard, Jolley said.

“At this point, we’re not investigating this any further,” Jolley said Tuesday to The Daily Collegian. “There does not appear to be a crime committed.”

However, according to a release Wednesday, the Patton Township Police Department is “continuing to investigate” the incident.

“Officers are continuing to search for any additional witnesses who might have seen this incident occur or for anyone who might have seen any suspicious activity in the Grays Woods neighborhood from April [24-26],” the release said.

Barron encouraged students, staff and faculty members who "experience or witness acts of hate, or suspect that an act has occurred" to call Penn State Police or make a report by calling the Penn State Hotline at 800-560-1637. The hotline can also be reached via its website or the report bias website.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact the Patton Township Police Department at 1-800-479-0050 or 814-234-0273.



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