NEWARK, Del. – University of Delaware officials launched a hate crime investigation Tuesday, only to reveal hours later that the alleged nooses hanging in trees on campus weren’t nooses at all.

“We received several reports from students who said they had seen the materials hanging in a tree” in The Green courtyard on campus Tuesday, University of Delaware Police Chief Patrick Ogden told NBC Chicago.

Of course, school officials immediately alerted the community of the allegedly racist activities on campus, with UD President Nancy Targett leading the charge.

“UD Police are investigating a racist display found outside of Mitchell Hall tonight and it is being investigated as a hate crime,” University police wrote in a campus-wide email.

“Such cowardly and reprehensible acts are clearly designed to intimidate and frighten, and they are unacceptable on our campus,” Targett wrote in an email to students. “These hateful acts stand in stark contrast to the peaceful protest and discussion held near the same spot just one day earlier.”

Shortly after midnight last night, Targett sent this message out on Twitter: “[email protected] is investigating hate crime. We need to stand together against intolerance. Call 831-2222 if you saw anything. #VoicesOfUDel”

The message was re-tweeted 156 times, including by UD’s official Twitter account.

Numerous students called in to help solve the “crime.” They all said the nooses are actually the remnants of paper lanterns from a recent event at The Green.

By 7:12 a.m., Targett was tweeting a different tune.

“Update: @UDelPolice determine incident was not a hate crime. Please stand with me on the Green @ 4:30 p.m. #VoicesOfUDel,” she wrote.

She also put out a video and prepared statement on the UDaily website.

“Earlier this morning I sent you an email about a student finding what was believed to be three nooses hanging from a tree in front of Mitchell Hall on The Green,” the statement read.

“Thanks to tips from students who responded to our earlier call for information and the investigative work of University of Delaware Police, it has been determined that the three noose-like items found outside Mitchell Hall were not instruments of a hate crime, but the remnants of paper lanterns from an event previously held on The Green.”

In the statement, Ogden states he’s “confident that we have determined the origin of these items.”

Targett is meeting with student this afternoon to “continue the dialogue” – presumably about racist stuff on college campuses. The UD episode follows an actual incident at the Duke University this spring in which a student eventually admitted to hanging a noose in a tree, though privacy laws shielded his punishment.

The noose hysteria at UD was hyped up mostly by student Harry A. Lewis, who waged a campaign on Twitter about the ordeal and refused to relent once he was called out.

In his initial tweet, Lewis wrote, “Somebody hung three nooses outside of Mitchell. Shit’s getting real dangerous,” and included a link to the alleged nooses. Others quickly pounced on the allegedly racist act as payback for a Monday night speech on campus by Townhall editor Katie Pavlich that was rudely interrupted by a #BlackLivesMatter protest, Twitchy.com reports.

Even after Lewis’ classmates pointed out that he’s an idiot and the “nooses” had been there for a week, he just kept on.

“I know some people are saying the nooses were in the tree for a while. Here are my thoughts on that,” he tweeted.

“1. They still look a helluva lot like nooses, week old or not.

“2. Who puts a wire hanger in the shape of a circle and hangs it from a rope from a tree branch for shits and giggles?

“3. If it had been there for a week, that means you saw it and didn’t say anything. You’re just

“4. Even if they were there, was I seriously the first person in a WEEK to notice them and put two and two together?

“5. Somebody still got up in a tree conveniently located near the BLM protest and hung metal from ropes.

“6. If the people who put them there really didn’t intend the noose imagery, they should come forward and own up.

“7. The Fact that I even saw metal in tree and thought ‘noose’ speaks VOLUMES about campus culture. I.e. It seemed in line with past actions

“8. This has taken on a life of its own now. And that life is giving voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless.

“So please continue to speculate about them. But do not forget that you ‘knew’ and were silent.”

Lewis later tweeted that he “misread” the situation and “connected the wrong dots.”

While Lewis’ misguided tweets illustrated his own liberal lunacy, many people on Twitter felt compelled to comment on UD’s rush to judgement.

They unloaded in response to Targett’s “hate crime” announcement.

“You are an idiot,” @Chris_1791 tweeted. “Quick to point guilt without knowing facts @udelpolice”

“You should be humiliated for your reaction of HATRED & emotional outburst & not waiting for FACTS. Ridiculous!!” @KristineAz wrote.

“Good to know at least the police kept cool heads and figured out it was lantern left overs. Nancy -> racist idiot,” @Sunshine2078 tweeted.

@SmuggieMike wrote, “Good God, I can’t believe you run a college.”

“Oh yeah typical academic,” @pytharoldmoon wrote in response. “Not the exception. And this is a big problem.”

“What an embarrassment this school is,” @allainrick wrote. “Imagine having this cretin as university president?”

@TheMorningSpew tweeted “looking forward to your reaction to all those campus Halloween decorations.”

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