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Columbia U. noose case update: Two months later, no leads, no suspects, nothing; Update: Baltimore black firefighter confesses noose hoax

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 2, 2007 12:51 AM

Update: A new story in the Batimore Sun this morning reveals that a widely reported noose in Baltimore was a hoax–most likely perpetrated to distract from a cheating scandal…

<blockquoteA firefighter who reported finding a knotted rope and a threatening note with a drawing of a noose in an East Baltimore station house last month had placed the items there himself, city officials said yesterday.

The man was suspended last week for performance-related issues and will likely face additional punishment, fire officials said. Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for the Police Department and for Mayor Sheila Dixon, said the man admitted to the hoax and will not face criminal charges.

Officials identified the firefighter who they say acknowledged writing the note as Donald Maynard, a firefighter-paramedic apprentice who is black. Maynard could not be reached for comment.

The rope incident sparked outrage two weeks ago and prompted a federal investigation into possible civil rights violations. It was the latest in a series of incidents that have cast the Fire Department in a poor light over the past year, including the death of a recruit in a training exercise and accusations of racism.

The news of the hoax came a day after a report released by the city's inspector general found that the top performers on two recent Fire Department promotions exams likely cheated amid lapses in testing security.

A black firefighters group had called accusations of cheating racially motivated after union officials questioned the test scores. But the investigation found that five African-American firefighters had studied by using a 2001 exam, which is against test protocol.

On Nov. 21, a handwritten note and a rope were discovered about 1:30 a.m. by two Fire Department employees – one black and one white. It read, "We cant [sic] hang the cheaters but we can hang the failures. NO EMT-I, NO JOB." A small stick figure with a noose and the word "Stop" were drawn below the message.

The note appeared to refer to the cheating investigation and a push by top fire officials to compel emergency medical technicians to become certified as paramedics. Maynard was among those whose jobs were at risk.

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I said a few weeks ago that a suspicious odor continued to surround the Columbia University noose case. The smell just got sharper. NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly addressed the incident on Friday. After two months, they’ve got…nothing:

Nearly two months after someone hung a noose on the office door of a black Columbia University professor, police say they have no suspects in the apparent hate crime that shook the Ivy League campus.

Police had held out hope that an exhaustive review of tens of hours of images from security cameras would help break the case. But the analysis yielded “no relevant information,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters Friday following a promotion ceremony.

Extensive interviews of faculty members and students since the noose was found at Columbia’s Teachers College also have failed to produce any promising leads, officials said. Nor, they added, has DNA testing on the 4-foot length of rope.

More than a month ago, I suggested that Columbia University officials should release the security videotapes publicly. Maybe the public would see something the school officials and police have missed. Also worth knowing: Were there any gaps in the tapes? Did Columbia turn over everything it had?

Law enforcement encourages and enlists citizens in “crimestoppers” and “crime solvers” campaigns all the time.

Let’s get to the bottom of this together. Free the tapes!

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