Black doll found hanged in South Lake Tahoe among nooses discovered around state

Jake Sheridan
A disfigured Black doll hangs on a noose suspended from a South Lake Tahoe power line on Tuesday.  (South Lake Tahoe Police Department)

A Black doll was found hanged from a power line in South Lake Tahoe this week with a noose around its neck.

Police responded to the incident Tuesday, and a power company helped take the doll down later that day, a news release said.

In the last week, Californians have found and reported three nooses as protests against police violence and racism continue. The other two were found in Sonoma and Santa Clarita.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department launched an investigation into a twine noose found hanging from a tree at Sonoma Raceway. The incident Saturday at the Bay Area’s largest auto racing venue came a day before a noose was discovered in the Talladega Superspeedway garage of driver Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only full-time Black driver. In a statement Tuesday, NASCAR said an FBI investigation concluded that the noose had been in the garage since fall.

In Santa Clarita, Christian Nelson came across a noose-like rope as he walked Monday evening. His mother, Kelly Bruno Nelson, shared images of it on Facebook. The next morning, Christian Nelson cut it down.

“The rope itself appears to be a boating-type rope,” said Lt. Ignacio Somoano, a deputy with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department's Santa Clarita Valley station. Somoano said the rope’s loop-end was manufactured, not tied with a slipknot.

The noose-like rope found in Santa Clarita hangs from a tree on Monday evening.  (Christian Nelson)

Kelly Bruno Nelson’s Facebook post received more than a thousand comments, many of which criticized her and her son, claiming they overreacted because the rope wasn’t literally a noose.

“Was it actually a noose? No, it wasn’t. But it symbolized what it symbolized, and there’s absolutely no reason for it to be there,” said Kelly Bruno Nelson, expressing frustration with the comments.

Deputies initiated an investigation into the rope, which Somoano suggested may have been used for exercise, such as tree climbing or swinging. One source claimed the rope had been there for two or three months, Somoano said.

Kelly Bruno Nelson said the tree stood off the beaten path and that she didn’t believe someone firmly fixed the looped rope there to play.

“It’s not a place where kids would go, or where anyone would hang a swing,” she said. Her son saw empty alcoholic beverage cans around the tree, she added.

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department is investigating who hung the doll. “At this time, we have not located any witnesses or leads,” Lt. Shannon Laney said in the department’s news release.

Laney told The Times the incident appears to be "racially motivated."

"I think it is disgusting and does not represent the South Lake Tahoe Community in any way," he said.

Police took the disfigured doll hanged from a noose down from a South Lake Tahoe power line on Tuesday.  (South Lake Tahoe Police Department)

The incident does not amount to a hate crime because it did not target a specific person, he said, but is being investigated as a "hate incident."