Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas says six photos of African American victims found hanging from a tree was a misguided attempt to start a community conversation about race.
The photos were found last Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee's Riverside Park.
The laminated photos included Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Botham Jean, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin.
Four of the six died at the hands of police.
The two others, Arbery and Martin, were killed by people who took the law into their own hands.
The photos were hung with nooses and taken down by members of the Original Black Panthers.
Lucas said his department opened an investigation because it has jurisdiction at Milwaukee County parks.
The Original Black Panthers called the photos racist.
Lucas said deputies made contact with a 53-year-old African American man who said he hung the photos in the park.
The man said he also hung similar photos at Atwater Park in Shorewood but when deputies went to look for them, they could not be found.
Lucas said the man told investigators he hung the photos to invoke a dialogue in the community about how Black men and women are dying in America.
"He further indicated that he wanted to teach his son a lesson about the history of lynchings in America and how they have taken on a different form from America’s past," Lucas said. "The man indicated it was never his intention to stir up the kind of controversy that the discovery of the placards has created."
Lucas said no laws were broken and charges would not be filed in the case.
"No matter how well-intended the individual was in placing the placards in public as an attempt to begin a dialogue, the takeaway from this, for all of us, is that coming to grips with our country’s recent history and dark past requires an ability to spark meaningful dialogue in a more thoughtful and sensitive manner," Lucas said.