By Kyle Perrotti
WNC News Share
An African-American man from Waynesville believes he was the target of ethnic intimidation after finding a noose at one of his favorite fishing spots, near the intersection of Dark Ridge Road and Willets Road.
Michael Bryson, 65, was out fishing Friday morning on Scotts Creek at about 11 a.m. when he found the noose fastened around the rail portion of the bridge at the roadway and dangled over top of the creek, according to a release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
Although Bryson said he tried to fish on for a bit, it wasn’t long before he headed back and alerted Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher and Waynesville Police Chief David Adams.
In short order, Adams gave Bryson a ride back to his fishing spot and called Maj. Shannon Queen of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. Once Queen arrived, he collected evidence, including the rope itself.
Queen said that while the rope being there could be a coincidence, he highly doubted it.
“It appears to be a deliberate act of intimidation toward him,” Queen said. “The noose is associated with intimidation of a person of color.”
Bryson agreed, noting that the last time he fished the creek had been exactly a week earlier and that anyone who drives by that area regularly knows he’s often there.
“This was absolutely an attempt to intimidate me,” he said, adding that he had no idea who it may have been.
“I’ve been hollered at by a couple of people, but I never respond. I just keep fishing,” he said. “Most people just wave or are friendly and ask me how the fishing is. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
But Bryson was also quick to say that even though seeing the noose was unnerving, he’s not going to stop fishing that creek.
“I’m not going to stop living,” he said. “But these are the kind of intimidation tactics that need to be stopped.”
The Sheriff’s Office is seeking any information regarding this case. Contact Crime Stoppers at 631-1125.