Officials say a noose was found at the construction site where former President Barack Obama’s presidential center is being built in Chicago, halting construction and triggering a round of sensitivity training.
The group of black-owned construction companies building the center, Lakeside Alliance, is offering a $100,000 reward to find out who left the noose, considered an anti-black hate symbol, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The noose was found on the construction site Thursday morning, and the Chicago Police Department is investigating the incident, the Tribune reported.
“We have zero tolerance for any form of bias or hate on our worksite,” Lakeside Alliance stated. “We are suspending all operations on-site in order to provide another series of [anti-bias training] for all staff and workers.”
A construction worker told the Tribune the site’s five entrances are heavily secured and security cameras line its perimeter.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker tweeted in response to the incident that “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.”
Patricia Catlett, who has lived in the center’s neighborhood for decades, told the Tribune she has never felt unsafe there, even when walking home from work late at night.
“I believe it was somebody trying to play a joke, but there’s no major concern for people to be alarmed by,” she said. “It’s not funny at all. We’re all here to love and help and work with each other.”
The Obama Presidential Center is being built in the South Side of Chicago, where the Obamas have strong roots, with a mission of rejuvenating the area and commemorating Obama’s career, according to its website.
Ground was broken on the project in September 2021, and the grand opening is expected in 2025, according to the website.