Officials are investigating a set of two nooses that were found hanging outside the Mississippi State Capitol on Monday morning, NBC News reported. There were also a number of signs on the Capitol grounds referencing the racially charged Senate runoff race, which will take place tomorrow.
“On Tuesday November 27, thousands of Mississippians will vote for a senator. We need someone who respects the lives of lynch victims,” a Capitol Police spokesman said one of the signs read.
“We’re hanging nooses to remind people that times haven’t changed,” another one read.
A total of five handwritten poster board signs were found attached to trees early Monday morning, which happens to be one day ahead of the runoff Senate election between Democrat Mike Espy and Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who has faced extreme backlash during recent weeks after a video surfaced of her making a comment about attending a “public hanging.”
According to Chuck McIntosh, communications director for the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration which oversees the Capitol grounds, state police were informed of the nooses and signs by WLBT, a local NBC affiliate based in Jackson, Mississippi, after the news source was tipped off to check out the area.
The signs and nooses have since been removed and police are investigating by reviewing surveillance footage, WLBT reported, though McIntosh told NBC News that as of “late this morning, they did not have any suspects.”
PHOTOS: A pair of nooses and several hate signs were found in front of the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson the day before the Senate runoff election between Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy - WLBThttps://t.co/UURW4IZVx0 pic.twitter.com/qLlWj9VSX2— LIVE Breaking News (@AlBoeNEWS) November 26, 2018
“The perpetrators of this act will be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said in a statement released Monday afternoon. “I have contacted the Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for assistance,” he added.
Senator Hyde-Smith has been the subject of a number of controversies during the closing weeks of the Senate contest. As the Inquisitr previously reported, a video surfaced of the GOP candidate commenting that she would sit “front row” of a public hanging, which she later explained was an “exaggerated expression of regard” for cattle rancher Collin Hutchinson, whom she was with at the time the video was recorded.
She later apologized during last week’s debate against Espy, who called her comments “another black eye” for the state that just “rejuvenated old stereotypes.”
Mike Espy ripped Cindy Hyde-Smith for saying she'd attend a public hanging.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 21, 2018
"No one twisted your comments," he said. "It came out of your mouth. I don’t know what's in your heart, but it came out of your mouth ... It's given our state another black eye."https://t.co/DDE8gQpRxS
The Inquisitr also noted that Hyde-Smith has received additional criticism after she was caught on camera telling a crowd that she supports voter suppression, though she later claimed her words were meant to be a joke.
Mississippi, Vote for @cindyhydesmith on Tuesday. Respected by all. We need her in Washington!. Thanks!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 25, 2018
Despite the senator’s backlash, President Donald Trump has continued to support Hyde-Smith, tweeting on Sunday that she was “respected by all” and needed in Washington.