HARRISBURG - The Capitol Police have asked the state Attorney General's Office to investigate a complaint about a banner that called for a Philadelphia lawmaker to be "hung from the tree of liberty" during a gun-rights rally last month.

The investigation of the banner criticizing State Rep. Angel Cruz, a Democrat of Puerto Rican descent, involves answering questions about whether the banner is protected under the First Amendment or whether it constitutes a terroristic threat against or ethnic intimidation of a public official, Capitol Police spokesman Edward Myslewicz said yesterday.

"All of those matters combined led us to conclude that the matter should be referred to the attorney general for further investigation," Myslewicz said.

A spokesman for Attorney General Tom Corbett did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

The banner, which said Cruz "should be hung from the tree of liberty for treasonous acts against the constitution," was displayed by two participants at an April 24 rally in the Capitol Rotunda. They were protesting legislation sponsored by Cruz to require gun registration and a $10-per-gun annual fee.

Black lawmakers denounced the banner's message as racist and threatening.

State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland (D., Delaware) subsequently sent a letter demanding an investigation of the banner to State Police Commissioner Col. Jeffrey B. Miller, who forwarded Kirkland's letter to Capitol Police.