A noose was found hanging from a tree outside a church in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning.
The St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol and has a Black Lives Matter banner on the front of the building.
D.C. Councilman Charles Allen first posted about the incident on Twitter, describing it as a “despicable symbol & act of hate.“
“Denounce it loud & clear – hate has no home here,” Allen tweeted, adding that the Metropolitan Police Department had been working with church leadership at the scene.
Officers at the scene took the noose down from the large tree it was found on and kept it for evidence, NBC Washington reported.
“Upon seeing it, I was actually really angry,” Rev. Michele Morgan, the church’s rector, told the news station. “I think that symbols of racialized hatred are used exactly to scare a lot of people.”
The Metropolitan Police Department did not immediately respond to NBC News’ email request for comment on Saturday, but officials have been investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, according to NBC Washington.
The incident occurred as the church was getting ready to welcome The Thirteen, a professional vocal ensemble set to livestream a performance from the church Saturday night. The production seeks to tackle systemic racism, and the man who plays the role of Jesus is Black.
It’s unclear if the group was being targeted for their performance, but the ensemble’s leader said the incident is adding new meaning to their performance.
“In talking with the musicians today, we all decided that it made the work that we’re doing even more important,” Matthew Robertson, the artistic director of The Thirteen, told NBC Washington.
Morgan said it’s possible the incident “was targeted at folks who are doing work in this neighborhood and people of color.”
“That symbol has no business being in our country, in our city and certainly not in a church courtyard,” she said.