FBI notified of Edmonds hate crime

African-American construction workers find a noose
By Brian Soergel | Nov 09, 2017
Courtesy of: ANEW A noose was found on the site of Venture General Contracting’s site on Pine Street in Edmonds.

Another hate crime in Edmonds.

On Oct. 26, according to police reports, two African-American construction workers at the Building 10 condos construction site on Pine Street discovered a noose tied over a beam in an area they had access to.

“We have reached one of the two workers and obtain statements,” Sgt. Shane Hawley said, adding that the incident was reported by phone to Edmonds police Nov. 3. The caller was not one of the two workers. “The case is currently assigned to the detective unit, and the FBI has also been notified of the incident.”

Both of the victims, a man and a woman, filed complaints on Nov. 7.

“The community should and does take great offense of this repugnant offense,” Mayor Dave Earling said. “We have launched a full police investigation and have been in touch with the FBI. We will keep the public updated as we move through the investigation.”

The Beacon received an email from Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas Nov. 6 detailing the event, which included a forwarded email from Karen Dove, executive director of the Renton-based apprenticeship program, Apprentice and Non-Traditional Employment for Women (ANEW), to fellow Councilmember Dave Teitzel.

“A noose was found at the job site at 50 Pine Street in Edmonds that Venture Construction is building,” Dove wrote in the email dated Nov. 5, which followed an earlier email Nov. 2 in which she relayed concerns sent to her by the Seattle Vocational Institute, a program at Seattle Central College.

The institute forwarded information about the incident to Dove as it occurred at an off-site project and the program is limited in its ability to apply the normal policies and protections available within the Seattle Colleges system.

“There were two African-American workers who saw the noose,” Dove wrote. “One of them was a graduate of the (Seattle Vocational Institute) pre-apprenticeship construction program. When the foreman was told, (he) made a comment about how the knot wasn’t tied correctly and brushed it off. The two workers walked off the site.”

Dove said she visited the site Nov. 2, to meet with the construction superintendent.

“And lucky for us, one of the owners of the property happened to be on site,” she said. “The owner seemed to take our concerns seriously, as did one of the foremen. However, the superintendent was very defensive, would not let me finish a sentence and kept brushing it off and making excuses.

“We were told they did hold a safety meeting the Monday following the event, and that they would sit down with the two workers if we would mediate. They also told us they would send us (reports) of what happened. To date, we have not received this.”

When the Beacon contacted Venture on Tuesday, a spokeswoman sent the following statement: “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.”

On Nov. 7, Dove released the following update to the Beacon: “Due to the legal implication of the situation, and in spirit of protecting the victims, we are not going to release a detailed statement at this time.

A formal complaint has been taken by the Seattle and Edmonds police departments.

“The Regional Pre-Apprenticeship Collaborative believes discrimination, harassment, bullying and hazing is not acceptable in the construction industry. We will continue to bring to light situations in which there is a violation of policy or a crime committed. We are also committed to making sure any victims of such incidents have their rights protected.”

Dove said she will offer a formal statement Thursday afternoon, Nov. 9.

Responses

Councilmember Mike Nelson and the Edmonds Diversity Commission responded quickly to the incident.

“On behalf of our City I would like to apologize to these two workers,” Nelson told the Beacon. He also spoke about the hate crime Tuesday during the City Council meeting. “No one should be exposed to this type of hatred or placed in fear for their safety because of the color of their skin.

“I want you to know this act is against everything we value and love in our community.”

Nelson said he is looking into action the City Council can take right away, including prohibiting employers from doing business in the city by denying business/building permits when discriminatory or hateful conduct occurs on their site.

“We will not tolerate this in our city. I hope the two African-American construction workers who discovered the noose contact our police department. This is a hate crime. The person or persons responsible must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Ed Dorame, co-chair of the city’s Diversity Commission, said he considers what happened a hate crime that should not be tolerated.

“It’s disturbing that Venture General Contracting has a foreman and superintendent on payroll who from reports seem to have wanted to brush off the incident or downplay it,” he told the Beacon. “I understand disciplinary action has been taken; it would be good to know what action they took. Wanting to downplay or brush off this hate crime is just as appalling.”

In addition, the Diversity Commission released a formal statement on Nov. 7:

“The Edmonds Diversity Commission wishes to express its deep concern over the recent unfortunate incident related to the noose left hanging at an Edmonds construction site and found by African-American construction workers. In response to this incident, the Edmonds Diversity Commission encourages Edmonds residents to engage in reflection and/or dialogue with friends, family and neighbors about the incident, its potential causes and ramifications.”

Previous incidents in Edmonds

In August 2014 Dembo Sanneh, an African-American resident of Edmonds, took a walk along Sunset Avenue and the Edmonds waterfront with his family. It was a pleasant walk that turned dangerous when a white man yelled racial slurs at his family and threatened to kill them.

That incident led to a forum on race at Edmonds Community College and an organized walk against racism at Brackett’s Landing and in support of Sanneh, who is originally from Gambia.

In April, swastikas were painted on cars and homes in the Westgate and Esperance neighborhoods.

A few months later, Edmonds Police arrested a 21-year-old man for vandalizing a vehicle at Westgate Chapel. They had found a swastika spray-painted on the side of a vehicle belonging to a church member.

Update

A spokesperson for the Seattle Vocational Institute made the following statement:

“We must respond to these acts of discrimination and harassment to support our students and our pre-apprentice staff and instructors – especially our African-American faculty and staff who also deserve our support, advocacy and timely response.

“I remain deeply concerned that in our rush to create greater access for underrepresented populations, inspired by (Seattle’s) minority hiring and other initiatives, we have failed to adequately address the significant challenges – including racism and sexism – faced by the underrepresented students we place in apprenticeships and construction-related jobs. Increased access without retention does not equal success for anyone.”

 

 

Comments (4)
Posted by: Nathaniel R Brown | Nov 09, 2017 11:02

While I fully agree with Mr Nelson's abhorrence of the act under discussion, I'd like to suggest that "... prohibiting employers from doing business in the city by denying business/building permits when discriminatory or hateful conduct occurs on their site," ought to be revised to prohibit employers who do nothing to investigate and deal with such occurrences?  Bad and stupid people will do bad and stupid things - but an employer ought to be judged by actions taken to deal with and rectify the situation, not simply by the reprehensible behavior of an employee.



Posted by: Matthew Richardson | Nov 13, 2017 12:48

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.  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 (last year a banana peel was found on a tree and caused national hysteria).  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 noticed 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.  Then again, sometimes these are legitimate cases of harassment, and in 90% 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.



Posted by: Denise Hotchkiss | Nov 17, 2017 18:57

Mathew I have never seen a noose used as a Halloween decoration and would be offended if I did. You "routinely" see that? I highly doubt it. Burning a cross isn't illegal either but it is most definitely a hate crime when placed in a location in order to threaten a black person. Please stop invoking MLK and other civil rights leaders to justify your racist arguments. You show no understanding of history and what they stood for.



Posted by: Matthew Richardson | Nov 21, 2017 16:16

You've never seen a noose Halloween decoration?  Have you ever been to a haunted house?  Don't be silly.  I am inspired by Civil Rights leaders, like MLK, would wouldn't of been afraid of prank or hoax, who would have said something that united us instead of something provoked a witch hunt.  I love what MLK stood for and dislike what Jesse Jackson stands for.  You can choose the later if you want.



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