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Boys Accused of Hanging Black Doll from Noose in Philadelphia Park Allegedly ‘Didn’t Understand Racial Implications’ 

Residents of a Philadelphia community were outraged after discovering a black baby doll hanging from a noose in a neighborhood park that was once a historic African–American burial site.

Authorities announced on Thursday that two boys, both under the age of 13, admitted to placing the doll in the tree as a prank, ABC 6 reported. The boys, one Black and one white, didn’t understand the racial implications or significance of what they’d done, police said.

Baby Doll Noose

A recreation worker found the doll hanging in the park Thursday afternoon. (ABC 6 / video screenshot)

A recreation worker spotted the Black baby doll hanging from a noose tied to a wire at the Weccacoe Playground on Thursday.

“They thought they were going to creep people out and make it scary for people as they came into the playground; Councilman Mark Squilla said. “They succeeded in that, but said they didn’t understand the ramifications of what would happen from it.”

According to NBC Philadelphia, the playground is considered historic, as it was the former burial ground for Mother Bethel AME Church, one of the nation’s original Black congregations. The discovery of the doll outraged many in the community, including the church’s head pastor, Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler.

“For our people, there was a time when they weren’t baby dolls, but they were real people and real bodies,” Tyler said on a Facebook Live as law enforcement arrived to cut down the doll. “That didn’t stop us and this won’t either.”

The boys responsible reportedly told the reverend they thought it’d be funny to hang the doll as a way to “creep people out.” They said they found the toy in one area of the park and later found the “noose” in another, ultimately tying it around the doll’s neck.

“They had no idea about the historical legacy of lynching, what that image would do, the terror that it put into people,” Tyler said, later commending the boys for coming forward.

Authorities said surveillance video from the park confirmed the boys’ story, as it showed them playing with the doll earlier that day, the station reported.

Police have declined to say whether the boys will face charges. Before their admission, the city’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 offered a $5,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest in the case.

All in all, locals said they’re relieved the “prank” wasn’t related to the city’s plans to place a memorial at the playground marking it as a historic grave site.

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