TANEYVILLE, Mo. -- The day after the Presidential Inauguration and the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, someone hung a yard ornament of a black child from the outside entryway of the Taneyville School. No evidence was left behind, and the statue is now in the hands of the Taney County Sheriff's Department.
"When our principal came in, it was hanging right here on a rope," said Taneyville School District Superintendent Grant Boyer.
He says a yard ornament statue called "little black boy fishing" was seen first by the principal, and he was shocked.
"We don't tolerate that and so it was taken down immediately," Boyer said.
Deputies think the statue was stolen out of someone's yard. (A picture of a similar statue is in the video report.)
"I hope they catch them," said Jim Motley, who lives next door to the school.
Taneyville School District has 185 students, and few African-Americans. In the K though 8 building where the statue was hanging, there are no African-American students.
"I've never heard anybody being racist around here. There are a lot of farmers and stuff and you just don't hear anything racist," Motley said.
He says the incident doesn't accurately reflect the townspeople.
"I think they just thought they were going to be funny and it's really stupid," he said.
"It is very disappointing and so we'll deal with it and try to get to the bottom of it," Boyer said.
The superintendent sent a letter home to parents about the situation.
This may or may not be considered a hate crime. The Taney County prosecuting attorney and the FBI say there has to be an intended victim to be considered a hate crime. Since there are no African-American students in that building, and no note or threatening remarks, this might end up as a case of property damage.
If you have any information on who might be behind the hanging, you can call the Taney County Sheriff's Department at (417) 546-7250.