A noose seen hanging from a gallows outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection is in the custody of federal agents.
As rioters bludgeoned, beat and berated police inside the Capitol and out, a gallows with a bright orange noose was erected as marauders screamed, “Hang Mike Pence.”
The scene was included in the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump and the first hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the insurrection.
No one has been criminally charged in connection with the noose, which is in the possession of the FBI’s Washington Field Office after being found by Dutch journalist Michael Persson, who picked it up as rioters departed.
“In a country where even a baseball can have historical significance, I thought this is something for a museum,” he said.
He said as he reported on the aftermath of the chaos outside the Capitol, he saw a young Black man climb the gallows and cut down the noose. Persson said he believes the man was a good Samaritan outraged by the image who ran off after tossing the noose aside.
“I think he basically thought that I was part of the mob or the people there, and it wasn’t really the best place and best time to be present as an African American, so he ran away,” Persson said.
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The gallows was too small and weak to be used, Persson said. It was erected as a symbol.
Morgan State University historian Raymond Winbush says the noose has long been a particularly powerful symbol of hate.
“The noose, which has a long history among Black folk, has become a symbol of intimidation. We’re going to get you. We’re going to kill you," he said. "It became that on Jan. 6 for the government of the United States by a lynch mob.”
Persson said an arrangement was made to eventually offer the noose to the Smithsonian after the prosecutions and investigations finally close.