Group: City Is Ignoring Suspected Hate Crime - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Group: City Is Ignoring Suspected Hate Crime

Noose hanging on Mark Winkler's porch Noose hanging on Mark Winkler's porch
Confrontation between Winkler and Tim Taylor Confrontation between Winkler and Tim Taylor

LA VERGNE, Tenn. - A small, but vocal group of people made their point loud and clear Thursday night in La Vergne.

They feel the city is sweeping a hate crime under the rug and they don't understand why.

The people who protested Thursday night in La Vergne said what happened couldn't be any clearer.  The incident was caught on tape.

"As long as you stay quietly, nothing will be done in the city of La Vergne," said one protester.

The group hopes city leaders will hear their chant for change.

"It's been time for change, a long time ago," said another demonstrator.

They are calling for police to investigate what they call a hate crime.

In June, a neighbor taped a confrontation involving Mark Winkler and Tim Taylor. Winkler held a gun in one hand and a dog in the other.  Winkler is seen arguing with Taylor, a neighborhood handyman.  All the while, a noose is seen hanging from Winkler's front porch. Winkler is also heard uttering racial slurs.

Police charged Winkler with aggravated assault, but Taylor claims they refuse to let him report what happened as a hate crime.

"It was in plain view. It is a hate crime," said one protester.

"That man had anger and he had hate in his face," said another participant.

"And I don't know why the city of La Vergne, especially the police department, are refusing to do the necessary paperwork so he might see justice," said Goldy Wade, president of Murfreesboro's NAACP chapter.

"Until the proper paperwork is filed, we will continue to come back in this city and let out voices be heard," said Gwen Anthony of the National Action Network.

A representative from the police department said the police chief was on vacation. A message was left for another member of the police department, but it wasn't returned.

Taylor said police indicated that the incident is not considered to be a hate crime because the man who hung the noose on Winkler's porch said he did it as a joke.

Winkler is scheduled to appear in court in September for the aggravated assault charge he received after the June incident.

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