“Symbols of racial violence have no place in Oakland and will not be tolerated,” Schaaf said in a statement posted on Twitter. She added that the incident will be investigated as hate crimes.
Oakland resident Porchia Freeman took video of what appears to be a noose swinging from tree on near the lake on Tuesday. She said she was walking around the lake when she saw a string swinging in her peripheral vision. Freeman said she stopped in go have a better look and recorded the video.
Freeman added that a man contacted her saying that the rope was left over from a swing he had hung on the tree.
During an initial investigation, residents claimed the ropes were used for exercise, according to a press release from the Oakland Police Department.
“One community member claimed ownership of the ropes and stated that he intentionally placed the ropes on the tree limbs for exercise and games several months ago,” the press release states.
Schaaf also addressed these reports on Wednesday.
The ropes have been taken down and extra patrols have been assigned to Lake Merritt, according to police. The Oakland Police Department has turned over the evidence to the FBI and the incident will be investigated as a hate crime, according to Schaaf.
“We have to start with the assumption that these are hate crimes,” Schaaf said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We cannot take these actions lightly, we have to take them seriously.”
Schaaf explained that symbols like this should not exist in public spaces where people are supposed to feel safe.
“It is also against regulation to put anything in public trees, regardless of your intention or regardless of what it is,” she added.
But Fuller’s family announced that they are seeking an independent investigation and autopsy to determine the cause of his death.
In San Bernardino County, about 50 miles away, Malcolm Harsch, 38, was found hung to death at a homeless encampment on May 31. Investigators did not find any evidence of foul play, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
An autopsy was conducted on June 12 and there are still no signs of foul play, the sheriff’s department said. The forensic pathologist is waiting for toxicology results before assigning the cause and manner of death.
CNN’s Stella Chan, Sarah Moon, Amir Vera and David Williams contributed to this report.