Noose found at middle school in central Florida

Authorities say a rope that was tied in a noose was found hanging outside a middle school in Orlando, Florida.

News outlets report several students and staff members at Gotha Middle School saw the noose Wednesday morning before it was taken down.

"I need to let you know that upon arrival to school today, we noticed a rope tied in the form of a noose hanging near our front entrance," the principal said when calling the parents of students.

Orange County Public School officials say police are investigating, and whomever is found responsible will be prosecuted. School officials say counselors were available to talk to any students, and extra security was on hand. It wasn't immediately clear what the noose was hanging from, if it caused a disturbance or if any classes were canceled.

Jonathan Portillo, a student at the school, said he didn't happen to see the noose, but word spread fast.

"This morning our principal announced that there was an email to first teachers [and] then all the parents," Portillo said. "Me as a student, things like this aren't supposed to happen.

Nooses are often considered symbols of hate because of their association with lynching.
The incident is being investigated by the Orange County Sheriff's Office, but according to Florida statutes, the act of hanging a noose is not illegal. If the noose was hung as a threat or with racist intent, then a hate crime can be charged.

Some information taken from the Associated Press.