BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Dozens of Brooklynites gathered outside the Bedford Library branch of the Brooklyn Public Library Thursday evening in response to a pair of nooses hung at separate sites in Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights this month.
In a series of speeches, poetry readings, and songs, attendees promised to stand up to racism, increase dialogue with family, friends, and neighbors, and denounced the messages of hate and fear they accused the hanger of the noose of trying to spread.
“A noose is about being choked off, and we will not be choked off,” said poet Kim Brandon.
The rally came more than a week after a noose was found hanging Sept. 14 outside the Bedford Library branch on Franklin Avenue at Hancock Street. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, along with the noose hung just a week earlier outside the Brooklyn Museum, which is currently showing an exhibition on lynching in the United States.
Speaking Thursday evening outside the library, Tammy Hall, a singer and storyteller, said she refused to be cowed by the message of violence, especially considering the violence her black forebears lived through before.
“For those poor, pitiful souls who go around hanging empty nooses, that is so silly,” said Hall. “My ancestors were really hung from those nooses, and we were not stopped.”
The rally, an upbeat affair considering the subject, was interspersed with group conversations in which a moderator had attendees answer questions one-on-one about experiences with seeing, standing up to, and failing to stand up to acts of racism.
Organized by the group Racial Justice BK, the rally had the support of the Brooklyn Public Library, according to Sheila Schofer, the library’s director of neighborhood services.
“Hate incidents will not derail us,” Schofer said. “The library is always going to be a free, open space for all.”