Amazon said it temporarily halted construction of a new fulfillment center in Windsor, Connecticut, after seven ropes that appeared to be slings were found on the site since April 27.
The Windsor Police Department said it is investigating with Connecticut State Police and the FBI what it termed “potential hate crime incidents”
Amazon said it halted construction at the site until at least Monday while new security measures were in place. A $ 100,000 reward was said to have been offered; Amazon said it contributed $ 50,000 and that construction companies and subcontractors working on the site contributed the other $ 50,000.
“We remain deeply concerned about the incidents at this construction site,” said Brad Griggs, an Amazon representative, at a news conference Thursday with Black-elected officials and members of the NAACP. “Hate, racism and discrimination have no place in ours.” Society and are not tolerated in any Amazon workplace. “
Scot Esdaile, the president of the NAACP’s Connecticut State Conference, said the group had met with law enforcement officers and community leaders and that “we still do not feel that the situation has been adequately addressed”.
He said the group was “very, very disappointed” that the NAACP was not allowed on site to ensure the safety of construction workers. He said the NAACP also asked how many black salespeople and workers were on the site and that “many of those questions were not answered”.
“The NAACP will continue to find out exactly who is on this website and whose life is at risk and every measure has been taken to ensure that their public safety is maintained,” he said at the press conference.
State and local officials described fear and outrage in Windsor, a town of about 28,000 people north of Hartford.
“We want someone arrested,” said Nuchette Black-Burke, a member of Windsor City Council, at the press conference. “If we need a sit-in, a protest, whatever we need to do, we’ll keep doing it until people here realize it’s unacceptable. It’s a hate crime. “
According to police, the first noose was discovered on April 27, hanging from a steel beam on the second floor of the building in an area not monitored by surveillance cameras and accessible to hundreds of employees from various companies.
Police said that, according to the site manager, the site security team documented the episode and threw away the noose.
Two days later, on April 29, the detectives were told that five “additional ropes that could be interpreted as slings” had been found in various places throughout the building, police said. The ropes were collected as evidence and should be tested, police said, adding that no other messages or markings were found.
On Wednesday, Windsor Police said officials working on the site had been made aware of a seventh rope, which “could be interpreted as a noose” hanging from a beam. Detectives collected the rope as evidence and planned to send it to the state lab for analysis, police said.
“The City of Windsor prides itself on being an inclusive and diverse community,” police said. “These incidents do not represent the character of our community. We agree that we condemn these hateful and intolerant acts. “
Cases of racism on construction sites are not uncommon, according to Construction Dive, a news site focusing on the construction and construction industries. 65 percent of the readers surveyed last year had experienced racist incidents on construction sites. These incidents included snares, graffiti, and blurring. Seventy-seven percent of readers said they did nothing to address the incidents.
The FBI said it lends resources and support to the Windsor Police.
“The effects of a hanging noose are unacceptable and always result in an appropriate investigative response,” David Sundberg, the special agent in charge of the New Haven field office, said in a statement.
Mr. Esdaile said the workers on the construction site were from Lynchburg, Virginia, as well as Florida, Georgia, Texas and other parts of the south. “We are concerned that people in this community are not actually working on this particular site as promised,” he said.
Carlos Best, an ironworker who attended the press conference, said he saw Confederate flags on hats and on the back of cars and heard “racist remarks” at the construction site. He said it wasn’t the only construction site he’s seen and heard of things like this, but “it’s kept silent because some people just want to get a paycheck and go home.”
“But personally, I’ve seen a lot of racism in this job here,” Best said. “I want to say to the person doing it, could you please stop? Stop what you are doing and develop a conscience and think about other people. “