WASHINGTON (AP) — Community members have rallied in southeast Washington to denounce the hanging of a noose near an elementary school in a historically black neighborhood.

The noose found last week near Anne Beers Elementary School is one of several that have been found in the city recently. Authorities are investigating nooses left at two Smithsonian museums, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and bananas hung from nooses on the campus of American University. A noose is a racist symbol that evokes the lynching of African-Americans.

Police Chief Peter Newsham and D.C. Council member Vincent Gray spoke to a diverse crowd of more than 100 people who gathered for a prayer service on Sunday. Newsham says the hanging of the noose is being investigated as a hate crime.