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.
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