A rope was found hanging from a tree outside a church in Washington, DC, on Friday morning.
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is a few blocks from the United States Capitol and has a Black Lives Matter banner on the front of the building.
DC Councilman Charles Allen first posted about the incident on Twitter, describing it as a “despicable symbol and act of hatred.“
“Report it loud and clear: Hate is homeless here,” Allen tweeted, adding that the Metropolitan Police Department had been working with church leaders at the scene.
Officers at the scene lowered the rope from the large tree in which it was found and kept it as evidence, NBC Washington reported.
“Seeing it, I actually got really upset,” the Rev. Michele Morgan, the church’s rector, told the news station. “I think the 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 preparing to host The Thirteen, a professional vocal ensemble that will broadcast a church performance live on Saturday night. The production seeks to address systemic racism, and the man who plays the role of Jesus is black.
It is unclear whether the group was under attack for their performance, but the ensemble leader said the incident is adding new meaning to their performance.
“In talking to the musicians today, we all decided that he made the work we’re doing even more important,” Matthew Robertson, artistic director of The Thirteen, told NBC Washington.
Morgan said the incident “may have been directed at people who work in this neighborhood and people of color.”
“That symbol does not have to be in our country, in our city and certainly not in the courtyard of a church,” he said.