USC student says lynched monkey is racial threat, not harmless joke

Published: Jul. 13, 2016 at 3:17 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2016 at 3:26 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Kaylah Summers still can't believe the bizarre sight she snapped a picture of Saturday.

"Well, I was getting ready for work on Saturday afternoon, and I ran to my car to get something, and on my way back in, I saw something out of my peripheral vision like swinging from the tree," said Summers.

The picture shows it clearly – a stuffed animal monkey with a belt around its neck hanging from a tree branch near Summers' blue car. The 21-year-old rising senior at the University of South Carolina said she immediately realized the intent.

"Being that they refer to African-Americans as monkeys, I feel like they were trying to hint at hanging an African-American person, and that's very hateful being as far as we've come. It's 2016. We shouldn't be seen like that anymore," she said.

The apartment complex, the Village at Columbia, said it took down the monkey just moments after Summers reported it, and the complex has since denounced what it calls an "offensive display."

Meanwhile, Summers said she's been a bit uneasy in her own home.

"It was probably put up at night, because I feel like the person that did it was a coward, and I don't think they'd want to do it during the daytime, so I was scared that I would run into whoever it was that night or, you know, I don't know what their motive was," Summers said.

Summers is unsure if the lynched monkey was meant as a threat against her and her African-American roommates or if it was a broader display of racial insensitivity. She said she's been in contact with the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

WIS heard from the apartment complex, which released a statement: "We don't know who is responsible for this offensive display but it goes against everything we believe as a company and community. We were horrified and removed it immediately. We are cooperating fully with law enforcement to investigate the case, and will take strong action against anyone found to have participated in this incident."

Summers said USC has reached out to her to offer its support.

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