$100K reward offered after noose is found on construction site of Obama Presidential Center

Francis Akhalbey November 11, 2022
A noose was found on the construction site of former President Obama's presidential center in Chicago -- Photo Credit: TonyTheTiger

Lakeside Alliance, the company commissioned to construct former President Barack Obama’s presidential center in Chicago, has offered a $100,000 reward for information that could help with investigations into the discovery of a noose on the project site.

In the wake of the discovery, the workers on the site were told to return home and construction was suspended, the Chicago Tribune reported. In a statement, Lakeside Alliance said they had notified police about the incident, adding that they will “provide any assistance required to identify those responsible.”

“We have zero tolerance for any form of bias or hate on our worksite. Anti-bias training is included in our onboarding process and reiterated during sitewide meetings. We are suspending all operations on-site in order to provide another series of these trainings and conversations for all staff and workers,” the statement added.

“Our priority is protecting the health and safety of our workforce. We have notified authorities who are investigating the incident.”

Sgt. Rocco Alioto, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, said they have since launched an investigation into the incident. 

The construction of the presidential center commenced last year with the Obamas attending the groundbreaking ceremony. Upon completion, the center is expected to honor the former president’s legacy. The building will also be home to facilities such as a museum, a forum, a library, and a green space that will link the campus to Jackson Park. 

Following the discovery of the noose, a Chicago police officer went to the project site to retrieve the item. A worker on the site was said to have given a white bag to the officer. The bag reportedly contained what looked like a rope. 

One of the workers on the site, Rico Pineda, told the Chicago Tribune that other workers notified him about the incident. “The first thing I thought was man, that’s messed up,” the 29-year-old recalled. “There’s still racism going around, even with a union job. This job is guaranteed to the workers inside until 2025. Why risk that?”

The workers also do not know when they’ll be told to return. “They don’t want the locals who they’ve hired to work to fear their life is in danger,” said Pineda. “They said everything is shut down until they actually find out what happened. It could take a week, a month, however long it takes to make people feel safe.”

Pineda also said security on the site is very tight and wondered who could have been behind the incident. Gov. J.B. Pritzker also took to Twitter on Thursday to denounce the incident.

“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,” Pritzker shared.

“I condemn this act of hate in the strongest possible terms, and the state of Illinois will make all needed resources available to help catch the perpetrators.”

In a statement, the Obama Foundation labeled the incident as a “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,” the Foundation added.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot also responded to the incident in a statement. “This afternoon I was made aware of a disturbing, hateful incident that occurred near the Obama Presidential Library construction site. Racism and racist symbols have no place in Chicago, and those inciting it will be held responsible for this repulsive act,” Lightfoot stated.

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