BILLINGS – A musician who performs with Lyle Lovett and His Large Band found a noose on a light pole over the weekend, prompting police in Montana’s largest city to investigate the case as a possible hate crime.
Charles Rose, who plays trombone, says he saw the noose on a light pole a few feet from the band’s tour bus in Billings when he went out to get something from the bus on Sunday morning. Lovett and his band performed at an outdoor concert in downtown Billings on Sunday evening.
“I don’t recall seeing it when we first arrived this morning,” Rose wrote on his Facebook page Sunday, where he shared an image of the noose. “Scary. Needless to say I took it down.”
Rose later made a report to police. He did not immediately respond to a Facebook message from The Associated Press seeking comment on Tuesday.
Billings Mayor Bill Cole addressed the issue at a city council meeting on Monday night.
“Your city council, police department and city leaders take this matter very seriously,” he said. “We condemn any hateful speech or symbols of hate in our community.”
However, the investigation has so far not turned up any witnesses who saw the noose being placed on the light pole and police have not been able to find any surveillance video in the area, Cole said.
Nearly 30 years ago in Billings, the city united against racist attacks, with members of a painters union painting over racist graffiti that defaced a Native American family’s house and with people from several denominations providing security at a Black church after skinheads had interrupted services.
The city united again when hate flyers were posted near a Jewish synagogue, headstones were knocked over at a Jewish cemetery and a brick was thrown through the menorah-decorated bedroom window of a 6-year-old boy, the son of a Jewish rabbi.
In December 1993, The Billings Gazette newspaper printed a full-page menorah that people could hang in their windows in support of Jewish residents. A sporting goods store posted “Not In Our Town” on its reader board, giving name to a movement that was the subject of news coverage and later, a made-for-TV movie. It continues as a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to “stop hate, address bullying and build safe, inclusive communities for all.”
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.