Nooses, protest signs found outside Mississippi Capitol

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MS police are investigating two nooses and six "hate signs" found in the grounds of the state legislature, a day before a US Senate vote that has focused attention on the area's history of racist violence.

At a midday event, before the content of the signs was disclosed, Espy said he knew nothing about the nooses or signs.

Espy is trying to become the first African-American to represent MS in the Senate since Reconstruction.

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"Let us all respond to these despicable acts by voting, working, raising our families, practicing our faith, and pursuing the American dream here in our great state without fear or trepidation and in harmony with our fellow citizens", Hurst said.

On Tuesday, Mississippi voters will decide between Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy, who, if elected, would be the state's first black senator since Reconstruction.

The Senate runoff on Tuesday is between Republican senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy, in a race that has increasingly taken on racial overtones. If we find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that a federal crime has occurred, these criminals will be swiftly prosecuted and held accountable.

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Neither Espy nor a Hyde-Smith campaign spokeswoman would comment on the nooses.

He said the matter is under investigation by the Mississippi Capitol Police. Nooses hung on the trees of the capitol's south lawn on Monday, according to authorities.

Last week, retail megastore chain Walmart asked for its $2,000 donation back from Hyde-Smith and tweeted out a statement that her "comments clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates". The four photos, which were posted to her Facebook account, were of Hyde-Smith appears in posing with different Confederate artifacts like rifles, soldiers' hats and documents with the caption "Mississippi history at its best!"

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Civil rights activists were beaten and killed in MS as they pushed for African-American voting rights, particularly from the end of the Second World War until the 1960s.

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