NEW YORK — The graduate school where a noose was found on the door of a black professor agreed Thursday to turn over security videotape, but police were dismayed that they had to get a subpoena to acquire the evidence.
Police claim that Teachers College — Columbia University’s graduate school of education — had agreed to give up the tape without a court order Wednesday. New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said police officials were “disappointed and surprised” by the delay in a case that rocked the Ivy League campus.
Teachers College spokeswoman Diane Dobry said the school wanted to work in “the spirit of cooperation” with police, but privacy laws required it to demand a court order. Since a subpoena was obtained, “We are giving them everything,” she said.
Investigators plan to review several hours of tape from up to seven digital security cameras in and around the building where the noose was discovered early Tuesday morning on the doorknob of the office of Madonna Constantine, Browne said.
Police hope the tapes will help identify possible suspects. They also were testing the 4-foot-long piece of twine for DNA evidence and interviewing students and faculty, but they had no suspects.
Professor: A 'blatant act of racism'
Students, faculty and administrators denounced the attack on Constantine, a professor of education and psychology who has written extensively about race.
Constantine, 44, spoke to hundreds of faculty and students at a raucous rally Wednesday, calling the incident a “blatant act of racism” that “reeks of cowardice and fear.”
The state attorney general’s office sent lawyers from its civil rights bureau and investigators to look into the incident, said spokesman Jeffrey Lerner.
Nooses — reviled as symbols of lynchings in the Old South — have been showing up in other incidents around the country lately.
Last year in Jena, La., three white students hung nooses from a big oak tree outside the high school, inflaming racial tensions. Other nooses have cropped up at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut and a police department locker room in Hempstead, N.Y.
Teachers College, founded in 1887, describes itself as the nation’s oldest and largest graduate school of education.
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