The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office on Monday night said it has opened an investigation into a potential hate crime after a Black man camping east of Roseburg over the weekend reported a noose hanging from a tree near his campsite.
The Facebook post from the sheriff’s office said the agency had been made aware of a post on social media concerning the incident. DCSO added that the man hadn’t filed a report yet, but the sheriff’s office had already opened a case and was urging the person to contact the agency as soon as possible.
“We take reports of potential hate crimes very seriously and will always investigate aggressively,” according to the DCSO post.
At 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, the DCSO said detectives had made contact with the man and are following up.
“The investigation is ongoing and the case has not been resolved. Detectives will continue gathering all relevant facts, conducting interviews and attempting to collect evidence before a disposition on the case is made,” DCSO said in a press release.
A Facebook post that drew more than 300 comments and 300 shares as of Monday night reported that a Black man had left his yurt at Whistler’s Bend County Park, about 15 miles east of Roseburg on Highway 138 East, to go get something to eat and was gone for 1 1/2 hours.
He said in his post when he returned, there was a noose hanging from a tree limb right outside his yurt. A photo of a rope hanging from the limb was attached to the post.
Virtually all the comments on the man’s Facebook page were sympathetic.
“I’m sorry that this happened to you,” said Tami Marie Aman “I did not know that there were such racist people here in my home town. I am so ashamed! Again, I am so sorry. You and your family will be in my prayers. God bless you!”
“This is sick and disgusting,” said Christin McCurry. “I am so sorry.”
Comments on The News-Review’s Facebook page were more mixed. Several suggested the rope may have been intended as a foot swing rather than a noose.
“Why do people always jump to accusations?” said Stephanie Mellen. “Stop and analyse the situation before jumping the gun.”
Travis McCartt suggested the post “was a hoax.”
But Lucero Hernandez wrote that she had been harassed by racists here.
“When I lived in Douglas County, someone yelled the n-word at me from a car, someone hung a sign saying ‘diversity is the white man’s genocide’ from I-5, and a long, long list of other racist behavior toward me and my friends, so this would not surprise me,” Hernandez said.
The News-Review was unable to reach the man who made the original post for comment. The man’s post appeared to have been removed from Facebook late Monday evening.
Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice gave a short statement, noting that the incident is still under investigation.
“Of course, if it is what he thought it was it’s unacceptable by our standards, certainly,” he said.
Anyone with information that may be helpful to the investigation is asked to contact the DCSO Investigations Division at 541-440-4458.