PELAHATCHIE, Miss. (WLBT) - A rope left hanging at Pelahatchie City Hall is causing quite a stir in the small town.
Mayor Ryshonda Harper Beechem says she found the rope Friday and took to social media about it. She’s calling it a scare tactic, but police and a former employee have a different outlook.
Mayor Beechem says the mysterious rope was found hanging in the break room at City Hall and the incident is racially motivated, intended to force her to resign. But not everyone agrees.
“It just looks like something on a door," said a resident. “I wouldn’t think that way. We love everybody here.”
“It is not a good symbol never will be," said another resident. “They want to kill somebody.”
Mayor Beechem’s post on social media Friday not only has social media buzzing, but the town talking.
Mayor Beechem is the first African-American mayor of the city. During her time as the town leader, there has been lots of friction between the her and other officials.
We reached out to Police Chief Joseph Daughtry about the mysterious rope, and he says he understands the mayor’s concerns -- especially as an African-American chief. He has since launched an investigation into the matter.
“We were told a former employee put it there some six months ago and it’s been there since then and nobody really paid attention to it," said the police chief. “At this time, it does not appear to be anything racially motivated that has transpired.”
Former town employee Thomas Lyle says he put the rope on the door while cleaning out an equipment room.
“I wound it up and put it on either the doorknob or the reef hanger thinking someone can use it," he recalled. "There is no malice, no intent. The mayor chooses to make a racial issue out of it. There was no racial issue about it.”
“A lot of people on social media are commenting about this. We want to make sure they understand that this investigation is going to be thorough,” added Chief Daughtry.
Mayor Beechem had this to say about the rope incident: “Given the turn of events since I became Mayor, unfortunately I do believe the rope hanging on the door was a scare tactic intended to intimidate me into resignation. This egregious behavior not only is the most recent attempt of many to create a hostile work environment for my staff and me, but also is a disgrace to the citizens of Pelahatchie and to the State of Mississippi.”