Noose Probe Findings Disappoint Jacksonville Mayor

Mayor John Peyton said he wants to make an example of the person responsible for placing nooses on the equipment of two firefighters at a downtown fire station, but that might not happen now that federal investigators have closed the case.

Even though federal investigators failed to determine whether the incident was a hate crime or a hoax, the mayor vowed on Monday to continue searching for answers.

The investigation began after two black firefighters at Fire Station 4 reported finding nooses on their gear in February. A third firefighter reported a similar incident during fire training in August 2005.

However, last week the U.S. Attorney concluded there was not enough evidence to file charges or pinpoint blame. The Justice Department wrote the sheriff saying it could not figure out who left the nooses at the fire station.

On Monday, the mayor expressed his disappointment that the findings were inconclusive.

"I'm disappointed that we don't know who did it. I would really like to be able to hold that person up, and demonstrate how unacceptable that is," Peyton said. "Now, we are not really sure if it was a hoax planted by the alleged victims or whether it was someone else. Not knowing is what I think is frustrating."

Peyton also had some harsh words for one of the firefighters who said he found the nooses.

"I respect the work the attorney general did. They really worked hard on this. I am disappointed that alleged victims did not cooperate better. That was an impediment to the investigation," Peyton said.

The city was also hoping to hear more from the Fire Union on Monday. It had planned to hold a news conference to offer a reward to find out who placed the nooses on the firefighter's equipment. The Jacksonville Association of Firefighters released a statement stating it would pay for the reward with money from its own pockets, and also stated it had the backing of local businesses and the Justice Coalition.

However, late Monday afternoon the association said things had not panned out yet.

"We had a lot of people we needed to talk to and they want to talk to us about what we were doing and why we were doing it. So, we put it off long enough so we could have more discussion with other people to see how they want to figure into this," said the head of the Fire Union, Roger Lewis.

The sheriff's office report on its investigation into the noose incident is due later this week. The report is expected to reveal who took a lie-detector test and who did not.

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