California city votes to remove noose from official logo

PLACERVILLE, Calif. — After months of debate, a California city has decided to remove a noose featured on its official logo.

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By a unanimous vote, the Placerville City Council on Tuesday decided to remove the noose, a reminder of the city’s mid-19th century reputation as “Hangtown,” KOVR reported. In the years after the California gold rush, the city became famous for the lynching of criminal suspects by mobs of miners.

“This meeting has been a long time coming,” Mayor Dennis Thomas said during the virtual meeting, which attracted more than 150 residents, according to The Sacramento Bee. “It’s my desire and our council’s desire that everybody has a chance to get heard.”

After gold was discovered in California in 1848, violent crimes became common in small mining camps along the American River.

“Before long, several merchants and miners had lost their poke of gold at knifepoint,” according to the city website. Three men accused of committing those crimes were convicted by a jury and hanged in 1849.

“The site was a giant white oak in the corner of hay yard near the center of town,” the city website said. “The word spread quickly and (the town) soon became known as Hangtown due to several other hangings.”

The city became the incorporated county seat of El Dorado County in 1854, and its name was changed to Placerville, according to the city’s website.

Debate was lively and emotional, with residents from both sides, expressing their opinions about Agenda Item 12.1, KOVR reported.

“It’s part of this … historic town. It’s part of us. It’s the Old West, leave it alone,” one resident said.

“I kind of wish that our town was known more for like the gold mining than like the hangings because that just feels, like, unnecessarily violent,” another resident added.

A representative of the greater Sacramento NAACP spoke briefly at the meeting, KOVR reported. He urged Placerville to be inclusive and remove the noose.

“I would like us to keep our noose. It’s taking away from our history,” one resident, who favored retaining the logo, said during the meeting. “We need to keep our history. This world right now is taking inch-by-inch little pieces of our history and throwing it away. If you guys are going to change anything it needs to come out to the people and the people should be able to vote on it.”

The timeline for changing the logo on city facilities and vehicles was not discussed at the meeting, KCRA reported.

City Manager M. Cleve Morris estimated that making the changes, along with the labor involved, will cost approximately $5,300, the television station reported.