ALEXANDRIA, Louisiana (CNN) — A Louisiana city that hosted many of the “Jena 6” protesters Thursday became the site of a racially charged incident of its own. Authorities in Alexandria, less than 40 miles southwest of Jena, arrested two people who were driving a red pickup Thursday night with two nooses hanging off the back, repeatedly passing groups of demonstrators who were waiting for buses back to their home states.
The marchers had taken part in the huge protests in Jena that accused authorities there of injustice in the handling of racially charged cases — including the hanging of nooses in a tree after a group of black students sat in an area where traditionally only white students sat. The driver of the red truck, whom Alexandria police identified as Jeremiah Munsen, 18, was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor — a reference to the 16-year-old passenger. Munsen also was charged with driving while intoxicated and inciting to riot, according to the police report. As officials were questioning the driver, he said he had an unloaded rifle in the back of the truck, which police found. They also found a set of brass knuckles in a cup holder on the dashboard, the police report said.
The passenger told police he and his family are in the Ku Klux Klan and that he had KKK tattooed on his chest, the police report said. He also said that he tied the nooses and that the brass knuckles belonged to him, the report said. The report, filed by Officer F.R. Drewett, said he and another officer were standing with protesters awaiting their bus back to Nashville, Tennessee, when one of the group told him about a truck driving with nooses hanging off the back.
The truck was circling around town, repeatedly driving past groups of demonstrators, the report said. The officers pulled the pickup over and arrested two after searching the vehicle. At least one of the nooses was made out of an extension cord, according to the police report. The driver and passenger are white, according to the police report. An entry in the report lists “Bias Motive: Racial Anti-Black.” Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy said those involved were “from around Jena” and not from the same parish as his city. Roy said he is looking into whether the incident was a hate crime.
A photograph of the truck was sent to CNN by I-Reporter Casanova Love, 26, who said he is in the U.S. military. He’s visiting his family in Louisiana and said he witnessed the event. After the arrests, Roy came out to address the crowd and apologized, saying he does not condone racism, Love said. Love added, “If the police had not stepped in, I fear what might have happened.”
Love explained why he sent the photo to CNN: “People need to see this. It’s 2007, and we still have fools acting like it’s 1960.”
Roy said the matter is “not indicative” of Alexandria and that local authorities will look into it “completely, thoroughly and transparently.” Some protesters saw another truck with a noose hanging off it, but authorities did not find the vehicle, according to the police report.