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Nooses, graffiti at rival high schools spark investigation, protest

Two nooses that were found hanging at rival high schools this week, one of which was accompanied by racist graffiti, have sparked a hate-crime investigation at one of the campuses.

On Wednesday, students and faculty found a noose hanging from a tree at Mayfair High School in Lakewood, which beat its football rival, Bellflower High, 28-14, last week. The following day, a noose was found hanging from a tree at Bellflower High School, where racist graffiti against black people was also found sprayed painted on the walls, officials said.

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Citing the graffiti, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials are investigating whether the Bellflower incident constitutes a hate crime, Sgt. Martin Acosta said.

The noose at Mayfair was looked into but no report was filed and there was no criminal investigation, he added.

"A noose in itself is not making any correlation to anything," Acosta said.

Students told KTLA that they thought the two incidents were tied to the football game and a rivalry fueled on social media.

But Acosta said he was not aware of any school rivalry and believed that the two nooses – not the graffiti – were possibly related to Halloween and coincidentally showed up a day apart.

"People are throwing the whole thing out of perspective," he said.

Whatever the cause, students and faculty are concerned.

"It's disrespectful. They're ignorant, arrogant," student Jewel Romero told KTLA.

Bellflower student Jorge Flemate told CBS he didn't believe the incidents were related to a rivalry but said that they were wrong nonetheless.

"Honestly, there should be no tension, no hate between anybody," Flemate said.

Students at Mayfair planned to hold a protest against the noose and graffiti, KTLA reported.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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