Photo Credit: Obama Foundation/Instagram; Center for American Progress Action Fund

Former President Barack Obama’s Presidential Center in Chicago saw construction brought to a screeching halt when a noose was found by builders on the Jackson Park site Thursday. The construction team behind the project, Lakeside Alliance released a statement saying, ”We reported the incident to the police and will provide any assistance required to identify those responsible.” They went on to say, ”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.”

A $100,000 reward is being offered for intel on who placed the noose on the construction site, adding “Our priority is protecting the health and safety of our workforce. We have notified authorities who are investigating the incident.” And Chicago Police Department spokesman Sgt. Rocco Aliot says they are aware of the matter and that an investigation is underway.

One of the workers on the project there to install a water line is 29 year old Rico Pineda. He said about the situation, “The first thing I thought was man, that’s messed up. There’s still racism going around, even with a union job. This job is guaranteed to the workers inside until 2025. Why risk that?” All the workers were told to go home but it wasn’t made clear for how long that will be for. “They don’t want the locals who they’ve hired to work to fear their life is in danger,” Pineda said. “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.”

Outside of the fact that this was done to the nation’s first black President, it occurred in Jackson Park, named after a famed segregationist, President Andrew Jackson and it used to be the home of The 1893 World’s Fair: Colombian Exhibition, nicknamed White City, after the Whites Only park in the city by the same name. So the racist sentiment is baked into that neighborhood, not to mention the city’s history. Sadly, there will be those who will chalk this up as a hoax, as is often the case with that crowd. Unless people are being hosed in the street in front of White Only water fountains. We’ll be awaiting the result of this investigation and hope that those working on this project site won’t have to be out of work for too long while this heinous act is being looked into.