Kentucky Police Searching For White Man Who Grabbed Black Woman By The Throat After Using Hands To Signal A Noose
The Lexington Police Department has identified the man but is still searching for him.
Kentucky police are on the hunt for a man seen on video grabbing a Black woman by the neck after making a hand signal representing a noose.
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A statement released by the Lexington Police Department called the incident a hate crime and said they have identified the suspect but the investigation is still ongoing.
"The incident happened Wednesday, January 29, at the Walmart on New Circle Road. A third-party vendor working inside the store told police that a male customer approached her table after she asked him a question," the department said in a statement.
"According to the victim, the man made motions with his hands, which he said was for making a noose. The man then lunged forward and briefly put both his hands around the victim’s neck," the statement continued.
The woman in the video was working inside of the Walmart but was a representative for Spectrum.
Spectrum spokesperson Mike Pedelty released a statement about the incident.
"[We] are very concerned about the treatment of our representative and are actively working with Lexington Police as they investigate this individual,” Pedelty said.
The police released images from the video on all their social media platforms, but, despite identifying the suspect, they have not released his name.
"We condemn this apparent bias motive for this incident and urge religious and political leaders in our state to respond to this alleged assault by speaking out against bigotry and the targeting of minority communities," Waheedah Muhammad, chair of the Kentucky chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said.
WKYT reported last year that the number of hate crimes in Kentucky went up 83% in 2017. Of the 7,100 reported hate crimes in 2017 across the country, nearly 400 took place in Kentucky.
The number reached 414 in 2018, and NBC18 noted that this incident would count toward the number of hate crimes in Kentucky for 2020.
Kentucky activists and politicians have been trying for years to change the state's relaxed hate crime laws, which currently don't include crimes like homicide. After a horrifying racially motivated shooting in 2018, Kentucky State Sen. Gerald Neal tried to modify the law.
“The current hate crimes legislation in Kentucky is useless. It provides no appropriate response to this insidious form of violence that targets people because of their racial, religious, ethnic, or other identified group affiliations. We are called upon to correct this,” Neal said according to the Louisville Future.
Neal was trying to change the law after white supremacist Gregory Bush shot two elderly Black people at a Kroger supermarket on October 24, 2018. The story went national when it was revealed Bush had a substantial history of racism and violence.
Bush's ex-wife, who is Black, said he called her an "N-word b***h" and that she was forced to get an emergency protective order after he threatened her, according to court records from 2001. He has multiple domestic violence incidents involving his parents, and in 2009 a judge forced him to surrender his guns and undergo mental health treatment.
State officials, however, waited days before classifying the shooting as a hate crime.
"It was also an act of terrorism. It's ridiculous that Mayor Fischer, that Matt Bevin, that Mitch McConnell are taking as long as they are in acknowledge this as what it is. If this person was a Black or brown terrorist, it would have been acknowledged right then and there," said Truman Harris, a member of Louisville's Black Lives Matter group.
The federal government quickly stepped in, including Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and spoke out about the issue.