Sandwich restaurant chain, Jimmy John’s, has fired four of its employees in Georgia after they filmed themselves with a noose made out of dough and mimicking a hanging. The video in question was first shared on Snapchat, CNN reports.
In the video which was subsequently shared across other social media platforms, one of the employees can be seen wearing the knotted dough noose around his neck while another holds the end of it. After he fits his head into it, the other employee holding the end, pulls the dough noose to depict a hanging. Throughout their act, the employees can be heard laughing in the video, which has a “Happy 4th of July” filter under it. Another employee is also seen separately recording it.
Responding to the incident on Sunday after a Twitter user asked if the employees’ actions were acceptable, the sandwich restaurant chain said they “have zero tolerance for racism and discrimination in any form,” adding that they “take these matters seriously, and the independent owner has launched an investigation into the video.”
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In a later statement, Jimmy John’s confirmed the employees in the video had been fired.
“We have zero tolerance for racism or discrimination in any form. The franchisee has taken immediate action and the employees have been terminated. The actions seen in this video are completely unacceptable and do not represent the Jimmy John’s brand,” the statement said.
Another statement released Monday said: “The actions seen in the video are absolutely unacceptable and do not represent the Jimmy John’s brand nor the local franchise ownership team. As soon as we were alerted to the video, we notified our franchisee, who quickly investigated and terminated all employees involved. The franchisee is also meeting with their team to conduct training to help prevent anything like this from ever happening again.”
A symbol connected to lynching, the noose has long been used by white supremacists and the KKK to stoke fear and threaten African Americans. The symbol is a representation of the brutal mob justice that was usually meted out to African Americans by whites – especially in the South post Civil War – for alleged crimes the victims were accused of committing. Victims, after being lynched, were usually hanged and their bodies mutilated.
“The noose always means much more than a knot in a rope,” Jack Shuler, an associate professor at Denison University and author of The Thirteenth Turn: A History of the Noose, told CNN in an interview. “The noose was a tool used to kill people and, therefore, it is a threat — it is violent speech. The noose has become the new burning cross.”
Shuler added: “If you knew anything about the history of American lynching, then you wouldn’t tie that knot without doing so for the expressed person of threatening another person.”