Cindy Hyde-Smith
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., answers a question while Democrat Mike Espy, left, listens during their televised Mississippi U.S. Senate debate in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, Pool)

On the eve of the hotly contested U.S. Senate runoff election in Mississippi, one that has been tainted with racist rhetoric, nooses were found hanging from trees at the State Capitol in Jackson Monday.

According to Chuck McIntosh, the director of communications for Mississippi’s Department of Finance and Administration, someone called Jackson NBC affiliate WLBT about 8 a.m., and told them they needed to report to the Capitol’s south lawn. When they arrived, they found two nooses and six handwritten signs.

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Photos of the signs were posted on the Mississippi Department of Public Safety’s Facebook page and it appears that the nooses could be a part of a protest of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Hyde-Smith, who is backed by Donald Trump, garnered national attention when she told a supporter that if she were invited to a “public hanging” she would “be on the front row.” Her Democratic opponent, Mike Espy, is seeking to become the first Black Mississippi Senator since Reconstruction.

Two of the signs read: “We’re hanging nooses to REMIND people that times HAVEN’T CHANGED” and “On Tuesday November 27th thousands of Mississippians will vote for a senator we need someone who will respect the lives of lynch (sic) victims.”

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“There is absolutely no place in our state for these unacceptable symbols or tactics to intimidate others. If we find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that a federal crime has occurred, these criminals will be swiftly prosecuted and held accountable,” U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst said in a statement. “We are actively looking into these acts of hate and intimidation.”

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement that “the perpetrators of this act will be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves called the display “a reprehensible act” and said he will support “the resources necessary to find those responsible.”