African American workers find noose at Edmonds job site

    The noose as photographed by one of workers.

    The City of Edmonds is looking into a recent incident at an Edmonds construction job site where two African American men found a noose hanging from a wooden beam when they arrived for work.

    Karen Dove, Executive Director of Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Employment for Women (ANEW), provided details of the Oct. 26 incident to Edmonds City Councilmember Dave Teitzel on Sunday, Nov. 5.

    In an email, Dove cited an account from the Seattle Vocational Institute, which placed one of the workers on the job site at 50 Pine St. through its Pre-Apprentice Construction Training (PACT) program. According to the account, the worker came to the job site — later identified as the Building 10 multifamily housing project at Point Edwards — to find a noose “hanging in a spot designed for him to see it.”

    The construction site for the 68-unit project is being managed by Seattle-based Venture General Contracting.

    The student and another African American co-worker who saw the noose informed the job site foreman about the problem, but he reportedly “brushed it off” with a comment about “how the knot wasn’t tied correctly,” Dove said. Both workers then walked off the site, and one subsequently resigned his position after taking photographs documenting the incident.

    In the email exchange with Dove, Teitzel expressed “shock and dismay” about incident.

    The Building 10 site just as construction was beginning in 2016. (My Edmonds News file photo by Sherman Page)

    Dove said that on Nov. 2, she and “a group of about 20” others visited the Point Edwards job site, where they met with the superintendent and one of the property owners who “happened to be on site” at the time. She reported that “the owner seemed to take our concerns seriously, as did one of the foremen,” but that the superintendent was “very defensive” and “kept brushing it off and making excuses.”

    My Edmonds News contacted Dove by phone on Monday for an update, and she reported that Venture General Contracting had just informed her that “disciplinary actions have been taken,” and that a meeting is being arranged. “I am pleased that the property owners are taking this very seriously,” she added, “and they indicate to me that they will take significant action.”

    Also contacted by My Edmonds News Monday evening, a spokesperson for Venture General Contracting said that the noose was left hanging in an unfinished apartment in the building. While the actual perpetrators have yet to be identified, “disciplinary action has been taken” against the foreman to whom the incident was reported, the spokesperson said.

    The spokesperson went on to tell My Edmonds News that Venture has filed a report on the incident with Edmonds police. Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan said Monday night that he didn’t have any information immediately available on the report, but that the department would provide an update Tuesday.

    According to the spokesperson, Venture has also arranged for representatives from the company’s human resources department, their executive team, and job site personnel to meet with Karen Dove and other interested parties regarding the incident.

    The following statement regarding the incident has been issued by Venture:

    Venture strictly prohibits workplace harassment and racial intolerance and in no way condones this offensive action. Our team is deeply committed to maintaining an open and inclusive workplace for our employees and subcontractors. We take this situation very seriously and our team is fully and proactively cooperating with all parties involved.”

    At the end of Monday night’s city council meeting, Councilmember Mike Nelson also referenced the noose issue, calling it “a hate crime and this cannot be tolerated.” The United States has a long history of lynching, particularly in the south after the Civil War, Nelson said, but noose incidents aimed at intimidating African Americans have occurred recently in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.

    “We need to immediately and publicly respond to these acts,” Nelson said. “We need to condemn them. And we need to prosecute those who committed them. On behalf of our city I’d like to apologize to the workers who came here simply to do an honest day of work.”

    — By Larry Vogel and Teresa Wippel


    1. You’d like to think that this type of ugliness doesn’t exist here, but apparently it does. How heartbreaking.

    2. This is disgusting. I hope the disciplinary action starts with that first site foreman who dismissed the concerns. I look forward to hearing updates on this incident, to follow it to the full prosecution of a hate crime. Let’s let it be known that hate has no place in Edmonds Washington.

    3. At first when I saw the picture I thought it was someone who’d been interrupted in trying to commit suicide. Shame to hear this.

    4. I would encourage anyone who thinks this doesn’t happen here to open their eyes. There have been too many of these incidents in our community and the lack of knowledge (or perhaps caring) is what allows it to continue under a guise that it’s okay or tolerated. Madrona K-8 was targeted in June with hate words against people of color and streets vandalised with anti-Semitic messages and symbols around that time as well. Those are just two situations that I can think of off hand. Are you interested in helping our community so these crimes of hate don’t occur? Get involved! There are any number of groups and committees working towards this goal through the city, community groups, churches etc. This is on each of us not only to speak up and say it’s not okay but to be proactive – whether via community education or policy change.

    5. The shock of seeing trump/pence posters in down town Edmonds last year made me sadly unsurprised at learning about this. We are shocked and angry nonetheless. #NotInOurEdmonds

      • Deborah, This has nothing to do with Trump/Pence Posters. We, who did not support Clinton/Kaine do not support racial discrimination, or any threats made to anyone. I also support your right to your political signs supporting who you want. This is a free country. Your statement is bigoted and untrue. I walk by the building site that this happened 3 times a day walking my dogs. I have taken fresh baked cookies several times to the guys/gal out in the street who direct traffic, they are hispanic, black, and white, most know my dogs by name. I stop and speak to them often. I am of spanish descent and get to keep my language skills up, plus I get to let them know that we who live here really appreciate how clean they keep the job site, and that they are doing a good job. I have even written “Elk Heights” excavation because their workers have shown such care in their job (my comments is on their web site). I am a Trump/Pence supporter, how dare you insinuate that we who voted/support our president would be party to this dastardly act. I believe they have cameras mounted on the perimeter of the job site; I hope they can review them and find out who placed that noose there.. They always have two security guards every night, all night, they hopefully might know something too. It is people like you Deborah Wertz that cause the division in this town, and our country. Shame on you.

    6. As a Trump supporter, I find racism vile and ignorant. I hope the assholes get found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law and if they are employed by the contractor they should be fired. Zero tolerance for this crap.

    7. Deborah your comparing a Trump Pence sign to this? This sounds like the very problem of this noose. (Negatively verbalizing things you should keep to yourself.) First, let’s make sure it had anything to do with any workers. Could be something totally unrelated. Kids do strange things….

      • Hate has shown its ugly face in Edmonds again and once again we are hearing “maybe it’s the kids”? So, is that the Edmonds conservative’s version of “There is a time and place for political debate, but this is too soon” or “There were very fine people on both sides”? Since the 2016 elections incidents of hate crimes and hate speech have been on the rise and here in the Pacific NW, we have experienced an increase in White Nationalist activity. We are currently seeing the results of all of that here in Edmonds. This is the time to be outraged! It is not the time to gaslight or scapegoat kids. Get mad, speak out, and get involved!

      • Joy, you have made similar statements on multiple MEN articles regarding this incident as well as previous racist incidents in Edmonds. You have expressed doubt, on several occasions, that racism exists in Edmonds, generally making statements that “it was probably some kids” or “I haven’t seen racism in Edmonds”.

        When the horrible incident along Sunset involving a white man threatening to kill a black man and his family, you suggested that it was “fake news”.

        By refusing to accept what has been demonstrated time and again, you are closing your eyes to reality. Making excuses for racist acts is, in itself, a racist act.

        By trivializing this and other racist acts, you are marginalizing those who are the targets of those acts. And that IS racist.

        I truly hope that you will take this more seriously. It is not OK to be racist. Not in Edmonds, not anywhere. Don’t try to cover for racist acts. Don’t try to trivialize them. Don’t ignore them. Racism is here in Edmonds. Do not empower racists.

          • Matthew, if the boot fits…if Joy walks like a racist and talks like a racist but isn’t a racist, she should probably reconsider her stance on some things.

          • Zing. “If someone walks like a […] and talks like a […] then they must be a […]” is the premise behind half of all racist jokes that might be told on a construction site. Good job Laura, Larry, Heidi. Good job Diversity Commission too (who is commenting in here and keeping everything civil). I don’t mean to interrupt the witch hunt. but as a duly elected delegate for all white people everywhere, I certify that Joy is not a racist.

          • Folks – honestly. I’m not interested in reading people trade insults and sarcasm with each other. Points made.

    8. Since we are pretty much preaching to the choir here, I want to encouraged everyone who is outraged by this incident to take additional action. Here are a couple suggestions, and I hope others will post more:
      1. Email the contact person for the company that is managing the construction site, Mark Conway, and let him know that their Supervisor’s (non) response to this incident is unacceptable.
      Mark Conway, Venture General Contacting

      2. Contact Mayor Earling and the Edmonds City Council giving or requesting ideas of steps we as a City might take to reach out to these two individuals to help them heal from this despicable incident.(A formal letter of apology, an offer to meet in person, an invitation to visit Edmonds, etc.?)

      In my email to Venture, I requested that they:
      “post a statement on the “My Edmonds News” site explaining the disciplinary consequences your company has imposed on this Supervisor, what steps your company is taking to ensure that any future incident is handled very differently, and what additional training you will be giving your employees, so they are clear that immediate and decisive condemnation and follow-up action is the only acceptable response in such a situation. Even more important, I hope to hear what you have done to right the wrong that was done to these two individuals who had to witness this horrifying symbol of lynching. Have you reached out to them, apologized, compensated them for the day’s work since their leaving was certainly understandable? I can only imagine the trauma that such an incident would cause, and I hope your Company has gone (and still is going) above and beyond to mitigate the damaging effects your Supervisor’s inaction has caused.”

      • The end-to-end result of your campaign is counter-intuitive. Calling construction companies and chastising them for being racist will only make them less likely to hire people of color in the first place and will create racial animosity (which is the goal of the #Resist movement). They already fired a foreman just to make you happy. I’m sure all the white workers have newfound respect for people of color after seeing that theater. The poor guy probably has family that relies on him, and you got him fired. A business has a lot to worry about, and after your campaign they will be less likely to hire black people at all just to avoid being the target of spontaneous political campaigns like this one. Why not trust the company to handle this on their own? I’m pretty sure they have leaders in their own ranks who can mend the fences. We don’t live in a racist society; trust people to do the right thing.

    9. What a terrible situation. I noted it was stated that one person resigned his position. I do hope he will be able to find work promptly in an accepting and safe environment.

    10. We live at Pt Edwards and I understand that the builder employs someone to stay on sight during off hours for security purposes. I’m not saying that this isn’t a legitimate issue but has anyone interviewed the security person to see what they may have seen? Seems not that easy to sneak in, and place hangman’s noose on the property. Whoever did it, I hope that the person is caught.

    11. “Couple of teenagers??” And that makes a difference how? If it is the next generation, then the knowledge that we are raising racist hooligans should be even more concerning. This is not the time to be dismissive, this is the time to be outraged that a hate crime has, once again, targeted people in our community. My kind of Edmonds calls this what it is- HATE, RACISM, and INTOLERANCE- and then we work against the acceptance and apathy that is allowing these acts to proliferate in communities around the country. Where is your outrage?

    12. They should change the name on this article. Don’t classify workers by the color of their skin if it’s irrelevant to the article. I’ve never read a title that says “Caucasian workers found….” or anything remotely similar.

      • The headline “African American Workers Find Noose at Job Site” made me very uncomfortable… AS IT SHOULD! Even with the sanitized history that most of us were taught in school, we all know the horrific history of this country’s use of the noose to terrorize and kill black people. The fact that African American workers found the noose is, in fact, completely relevant to this article, because that is why this will likely be charged as a hate crime. Furthermore, the implications of race permeate all aspects of life in America- we simply should not ignore that fact.

        • Laura, treating people the same regardless of their color is not racism. Underscoring race at every turn to make you feel less racist is racist. As much as we love reading phychology today, and googling stuff that fits our political bias, most psychology is junk science according to science.

          “Implications of race permeate all aspects of life in America” <- holy crap lady. Say, I like drinking coffee at Waffle House. What race implications are at hand in that? What if I like dogs? The Sounders have another shot at the MLS cup. Racist?

          • Yes, Matthew, white people are all racist,because we have been raised in and educated by a racist system. We live with privilege in a country that was LITERALLY built on the backs of black people. I don’t really give a xxxx where you like to drink your coffee and don’t think your choice to be ignorant is cute. As for claiming that demanding accountability is going to engender more racism, it will…from racists. I’m sure that there are worker who have actually learned something about their colleagues of color because of this horrific incident who don’t appreciate you lumping them in with people like you who are anti-learning.

          • What about mixed people? Are they half-racist or half-not-racist? I guess it depends how you see things, if you’re an optometrist or not. I consider myself optometristic. #HealingFromThis4Real #NotInEdmondsAgain #MeToo

    13. I was the supervisor on the project. First the facts as stated in the article are incorrect in many of the items listed. 2nd we have had zero racial incidents on this project no written or verbal words thrown out by any of the workers. We have had a wonderful job atmosphere. I do not tolerate this kind of behavior. I have been in the construction business for 40 years and have never had any incidents on any project. Reading all your comments was very hurtful. When you make statements as a lot of you have. Please make sure you truly have all the facts. For those of you who wanted me punished you have gotten your desire. I have been terminated because I did not act quickly enough. The incident came to light on the close of business Wednesday the 25th Told the workers what we were going to do to address it. And they texted the next morning they were not coming back to the site. We tried to reach out to them,but they did not want to talk. We called our HR that minute. HR came out and interview all persons. The carpenter that made a insensitive comment was given a reprimand that day. A week later 20 give or take persons were at the fence of the project wanting to talk to myself. The owner representive was present and invited three people in to talk. It was not two male workers it was one male and one female from two different companies. Yes I probably came across defensive I had a lot of people making accusations that who knew where they were getting their info from? As they had never spoken to anyone on the site. They made accusations as if they were the complete truth. They were not interested in finding out the complete story,in my opinion. So those of you that wanted to stand on your soap box and make bold statements, you have caused two persons to lose their jobs to support their families without knowing the full facts of the incident. If that was your desire you succeeded. May I suggest people don’t jump to all these conclusions without nothing all the facts. I believe that may be another reason we have so much discourse in our nation today. We react with out truly knowing the complete truth. Wishing Peace to all the parties that have been hurt by this incident. And to the Two workers I am sorry you didn’t feel that we were concerned enough. We were and are.
      Sincerely Don

      • I agree with you, Don, that it’s important to have accurate and complete facts before reaching a conclusion, and it is unfair to be attacked by people who don’t have the full facts. Some of the details in your comment are different from what I inferred from the article. You write, “The incident came to light on the close of business Wednesday the 25th.” At the close of business? I assumed it was found in the morning, when the workers arrived. Does this mean that the noose was hung during the work day? If so, I see even more reason why the workers didn’t feel safe returning to the site- seems like it might have been a co-worker who placed it. You don’t say what you told your workers about how you were going to address it, or if you immediately notified your company and the two organizations that had sent the workers. If you did all these things right away, I remain deeply upset by this incident, but I apologize for rushing to judge your actions without knowing all the facts.

      • Don, thanks for writing. Individuals hurling accusations and what should be done. I believe what stood before you without having any facts was a true “Edmonds Lynch Mob”. Bless you for coming forward, I am sorry you have lost your job. The unjustified and without facts “outrage” that you read in these comments are embarrassing to read. Until people KNOW the facts they should just stop and read what they have written. There are many in this community that are not party to blaming before knowing the facts; but as you can see from these comments anyone who sticks up for true justice get attacked.

    14. Don I imagine reading these comments are hurtful. Have you considered how hurtful this death threat was to the black students? You didn’t mention it at all, you defended yourself and defended your defensiveness. It’ll be great when you defend people of color.

      And Linda stop. Stop. You call people who are addressing racism a lynch mob? Any idea how offensive that is? Have you considered how offensive this act and your defense of it might be to people of color in this town?

    15. Thank you Don for bringing to light additional facts about this incident. It makes me nauseated how quickly some of our local media outlets, armchair uninformed citizens, and local politicians, jump into assumptions and create this disgusting divisive environment we all have to endure. I am truly sorry for the innocent victims and am embarrassed that we have so many inconsiderate prejudiced voices to listen to.

    16. Don: I hear you. Getting fired from your job is terrible. Feeling unsafe and threatened at your job is also terrible, and unacceptable. A NOOSE was found at your job site. This is a BIG problem. As a supervisor, it’s up to you to make things right. I would certainly hope that your supervisors made the decision to fire you based on what they were seeing in your actions at work rather than a media portrayal of the situation. Besides calling HR, what actions did you take to make things right? Clearly it wasn’t enough, or the right actions to satisfy your supervisors or the two employees who would rather lose their jobs than come back to an unsafe workplace. They lost their jobs out of this incident as well.

    17. Thank goodness news articles like this and the action taken by the Diversity Commission has put a stop to all this once and for all. I predict less hate crimes now. Sarcasm aside, nooses aren’t illegal, so it’s not a crime to display a noose, let alone a hate crime. Nooses are a common Halloween decoration even. Then, a pattern of harassment has to be demonstrated for there to be an actual crime, which is hard to do. That said, it’s kinda racist to assume that the noose was intended to harass anyone black who happened upon it. If a banana was found on a job site, it would be racist to assume it was there to harass black people (this year a banana peel was found on a tree and caused national hysteria – but it was a hoax). Black folks I know through out the years aren’t so fragile. It sounds like the younger apprentice brushed it off and was more concerned with working hard and doing their job. It could have just been a noose, someone bored tied with rope. The apprentice commented that it was tied wrong because he probably tied one before too. I’ve tied a noose before when I was a kid. It could have been a Halloween inspired decoration. I bet the person who did is already known, that it was innocent, and there will be no charges. Look at all the dirty laundry though. Someone’s gotta hang for this PR situation, am I right?

      Then again, sometimes these are legitimate cases of harassment, and in most of those cases (a noose, a swastika, racist rants written in a school bathroom, etc) where the criminal is at large, a Social Justice Warrior committed the act themselves for the purpose of eliciting a response exactly like the one above. An SJW drew a swastika using poop in a bathroom at Mizzou University. It caused national outrage and white people were able to convince black people to go on a hunger strike. MLK, Parks, Malcolm X wouldn’t dignify a poop swastika by protesting it. Some adult somewhere has the unfortunate job weighing the chance that this was a hoax designed to create a lawsuit against the settlement amount if they are unable to prove it was a hoax. It’s a PR gambit. Our Mayor was smart to create a Diversity Commission so that the city of Edmonds has some plausible deniability when someone who works for Edmonds is accused of racism (which will happen). What we can all agree on is that this news article, the responses in here, et all, are fomenting poor race relations. All of you are ensuring that this kind of stuff happens more often. Let’s all get the torches out to find who tied this noose.

      • Y’all just hung Don Cunningham. Congratulations to the Mayor, the Diversity Committee and to My Edmonds News for handling this correctly.

        • Really? WE all just “hung” the man who is either twisting the facts here, or in the news story? WE “hung” the man who can’t figure out when the noose showed up? You need to crawl back under your rock, Matthew.

          • Don was fired. He wasn’t interviewed for this article. He said he was misrepresented by MyEdmondsNews. This was a witch hunt. I judge people on their character and don’t assume anything based on skin color. I’ll go under that rock with Don any day.

            “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

    18. Pump the breaks everyone! The Edmonds PD is involved. Given the publicity and impact on at least 3 family’s lives (2 employees +Don), how about if we let our trained police force produce facts?

      These two men and Don have had their lives affected in a dramatic way. How about all of those claiming to be so virtuous to believe Edmonds is the example of racial equality pump the breaks? Additionally, all of those thinking this is just some teenage prank, pump the breaks.

      We pay taxes for an excellent police force, let them do their job!

      • We did, in fact, ask police for an update today and were told that they are still investigating and interviewing.

    19. If police get involved, someone’s gotta be fired no matter what. It’s a bronze-age practice known as scapegoating, but it’s all a company can do these days when 20 people show up to a job site half-cocked. If Don isn’t a racist or someone with a systemic disregard for racial equality (facts pending), then the damage was already done by the papers, the SJW’s, et all. This thread is full of people unwilling to give Don the benefit of the doubt because if he’s innocent they’d be forced to say they were sorry to the guy. What floors me is that people expect a construction foreman to have an immediate and articulate response to a noose on his job site. I don’t know him, he could be racist, but based on his comment, he seems very sincere. No one is jumping to conclusions about Edmonds not being racist. Edmonds isn’t racist. There is a small contingent of people who throw around the word around, and some of em are on the City Council. It’s useless to pump the brakes after the car already crashed into the wall and a guy lost his job and is in the news for such a thing. Good job everyone.


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