Construction was halted at the Obama Presidential Center Thursday (Nov. 10) after workers found a noose at the site.
via: Chicago Tribune
Foundation officials are condemning a “shameless act of cowardice and hate” at the site of former President Barack Obama’s presidential center in Jackson Park on Thursday morning.
Officials say a noose was discovered at the project site and construction has been halted.
”We reported the incident to the police and will provide any assistance required to identify those responsible,” Lakeside Alliance, the construction team building the center, said in an emailed release.
”We have zero tolerance for any form of bias or hate on our worksite. Anti-bias training is included in our onboarding process and reiterated during sitewide meetings. We are suspending all operations on-site in order to provide another series of these trainings and conversations for all staff and workers,” the statement said.
They are offering a $100,000 reward to help find whoever was responsible.
“Our priority is protecting the health and safety of our workforce. We have notified authorities who are investigating the incident.”
The Chicago Police Department is aware of this matter and it is under investigation, according to Sgt. Rocco Alioto, a spokesman.
Foundation officials have said the museum will pay tribute to Obama’s legacy as the first Black president and has endeavored to economically uplift the neighboring majority-Black South Side.
Lakeside Alliance is a joint venture between four African American firms – Brown & Momen, Powers & Sons, Safeway, and UJAMAA – and Turner Construction. City work to prepare for construction began in spring 2021, with the Obamas returning to Chicago for an official groundbreaking that September.
As the sun was starting to set on the worksite, a Chicago police officer pulled up outside one of the five entrances to the Obama Center construction zone off South Stony Island Avenue, waited for a few minutes to be let inside then met with a couple workers on-site.
One of the workers handed the officer a white bag with what appeared to be rope inside. The officer came back outside of the center perimeter, put the bag in his squad car and drove off.
Rico Pineda, 29, is leading the team of workers that have been posted outside of the Obama Center perimeter for about two months now to install a water line, he said.
Pineda heard about the situation from other workers.
“The first thing I thought was man, that’s messed up,” Pineda said. “There’s still racism going around, even with a union job. This job is guaranteed to the workers inside until 2025. Why risk that?”
The workers inside were all told to go home, but no one seemed to have a clear idea as to how long they would be off-site.
“They don’t want the locals who they’ve hired to work to fear their life is in danger,” Pineda said. “They said everything is shut down until they actually find out what happened. It could take a week, a month, however long it takes to make people feel safe.”
Pineda wondered who could have done such a thing and added that the five entrance points are heavily secured, and there are also security cameras along the perimeter.
Sisters Rosemary Jackson, 81, Patricia Catlett, 66, and April Branklyn, 59, have lived in the neighborhood for decades. Jackson and Catlett said they have lived at Jackson Park Terrace, 6020 S. Stony Island Ave., for over 40 years, right across from the Obama Center worksite.
Jackson and Catlett said they heard about what happened from their sister, Branklyn. They said they were “shocked” because from their time in the area, they haven’t had any problems.
Trees have been cleared and concrete poured for the museum building and the complex’s parking garage.
When complete, the campus will include the towering museum building, a forum and a Chicago Public Library branch, as well as green space connecting the site to the rest of Jackson Park.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker condemned the incident in a series of tweets Thursday. “Hate has no place in Illinois. The noose is more than a symbol of racism, it is a heart-stopping reminder of the violence and terror inflicted on Black Americans for centuries.”
Hate has no place in Illinois. The noose is more than a symbol of racism, it is a heart-stopping reminder of the violence and terror inflicted on Black Americans for centuries. https://t.co/YQU0h1UEc8
— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) November 10, 2022
”I condemn this act of hate in the strongest possible terms, and the state of Illinois will make all needed resources available to help catch the perpetrators,” Pritzker tweeted.
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