Noose found on $830M Obama Presidential Center jobsite

Dive Brief:

  • Workers discovered a noose Thursday on the construction site of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, bringing the project to a halt as police investigate and employees receive anti-bias training.
  • Lakeside Alliance — a JV of New York City-based Turner Construction; Gary, Indiana-based firm Powers & Sons Construction and Chicago-based contractors UJAMAA Construction, Brown & Momen and Safeway Construction — was alerted to the noose on Thursday. The JV stopped work and notified the police, who are investigating the situation. 
  • The center, designed to highlight the legacy of former President Barack Obama and commissioned by his nonprofit, the Obama Foundation, is the latest high-profile construction project to deal with the discovery of a racist object on site. The incident has garnered the attention of not only the construction industry but also government officials, including Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who condemned the act on social media.

Dive Insight:

The Obama Presidential Center will include an athletic center, event center, restaurant, recording studio, auditorium and library. It will sit on 19.3 acres and is located in Chicago’s Jackson Park, according to the project website. The cost of the project totaled at least $830 million in 2021, according to the Associated Press.

“This 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,” said the Obama Foundation in a statement sent to Construction Dive.

Lakeside Alliance said that it was fully cooperating with law enforcement. While the work is stopped, the JV is also conducting another round of anti-bias training to its workers and employees on the job, in addition to the initial training they received. Work will resume when that training is complete, said Chris McFadden, vice president of communications at Turner Construction. The JV is also offering a $100,000 award for any information leading to the culprit.

“Lakeside Alliance remains committed to providing a work environment where everyone can feel safe, be their best self, and is treated with dignity and respect,” the JV said in a statement sent to Construction Dive.

Other nooses and racist graffiti have been discovered on jobsites recently. In August, workers found one at a $295 million Oregon high school project that prompted the contractor on the job, Portland, Oregon-based Andersen Construction, to hold a stand-down. In July, a $200,000 reward led to the firing of one worker who placed a noose on the $6.5 billion federal Uranium Processing Facility in Tennessee. 

In a similar vein, in September a worker was fired after creating racist graffiti on another Turner job: a $1.5 billion Meta jobsite. The fired worker came forward and admitted to creating the graffiti.

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