CHICAGO (CBS) — Construction on the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park was halted on Thursday, after a noose was found on the worksite.
Workers told CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar the noose was found in the basement or the foundation of the construction site. We are told that the construction workers were brought together for a meeting. and then quickly told to put their tools down until further notice.
A Chicago police officer left the Obama presidential center construction site Thursday afternoon with a plastic bag that appeared to have a rope inside.
The group of minority-owned construction companies behind the $500 million project, Lakeside Alliance, said a noose was found earlier in the day Thursday. The company said they called police as soon as they were made aware.
“This morning we were informed that an act of hate was discovered at the project site. We reported the incident to the police and will provide any assistance required to identify those responsible,” Lakeside Alliance said in a statement.
Construction worker Rico Pineda believes the noose was found in the foundation of the site.
“They found a hangman’s noose down in the basement,” Pineda said. “I am very upset – very angry, you know.”
Workers were off the job early, as construction has been halted until additional anti-bias training is completed.
The construction site is secure, which is why Pineda questions how the noose got in.
“There is 24-hour security, there is cameras, and you need an ID to get inside – you need to get sign in and everything,” Pineda said. “The only other way you can get in is hop the gate – that’s it. So that’s the only two possible ways that I see it.”
Ground broke on the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park in September 2021. In June, former President Barack Obama visited the construction site to thank workers – and he even touted the diverse labor force.
“Not only some outstanding contractors, but also one of the most diverse workforces we’ve ever seen on a major project,” Mr. Obama said in June.
In a statement Thursday night, the Obama Foundation said: “This shameless act of cowardice and hate is designed to get attention and divide us. Our priority is protecting the health and safety of our workforce. We have notified authorities who are investigating the incident.”
Lakeside Alliance said was “horrified” at what happened, and is offering a $100,000 reward to help find those responsible.
“Lakeside Alliance remains committed to providing a work environment where everyone can feel safe, be their best self, and is treated with dignity and respect,” the company said.
Pineda noted that the incident has caused multiple layers of problems.
“Everybody’s a union worker here, and now just for because somebody’s mistake – one mistake – now everybody’s is laid off,” said Pineda.
The Chicago Police Department says it is aware of the incident.