NAACP Says Threat Against Black Workers At Amazon Construction Site Not Taken Seriously

Amazon and law enforcement are not doing enough to protect black workers at a construction site in Windsor, Connecticut, where an eighth noose was found earlier this week, according to the NAACP state.

“This investigation is a lot of smoke and mirrors,” Scot X told CBS MoneyWatch on Friday. Esdaile, president of the Connecticut NAACP.

Esdaile said black workers who found the nooses told him they had not been questioned by investigators or interviewed by Amazon. “They didn’t talk to them at all, the people who found the nooses – it was a direct message to them that we want to kill you,” he said of the racially motivated lynchings symbol which took place in the United States in the first half of the 20th century.

Windsor Police Chief Donald Melanson said officers spoke to more than 100 employees at the site, including official talks with dozens of workers.

“We’re definitely focused on those who found them,” Melanson said Friday. His department has also contacted the NAACP, but the organization has not referred any workers, so police are receiving conflicting reports, he said.

“No worker came to us to tell us they felt targeted,” which makes investigating hate crimes more difficult, said Melanson. “Society is a victim, it is a heinous symbol.”

Black workers at the site fear losing their jobs if they speak out, according to the NAACP section’s Esdaile.

As the investigation continues, the police and the FBI are “developing potential people of interest,” the police chief said. “According to the information we are collecting, this is one or more workers on site.”

The Amazon site was temporarily closed for the second time on Wednesday after an eighth noose was discovered under electrical equipment on the 3.6 million square foot construction site of a new warehouse in Windsor, a town on the northern border of Hartford, the state capital. The first noose had been found there nearly five weeks earlier.

“One slipknot, two slip knots, three slip knots, four slip knots, five slip knots – eight slip knots and you still don’t have that thing under control? A business like Amazon with so many resources?” Said Esdaile.

Esdaile had scheduled a meeting with workers at the site on Wednesday, to be kicked off the premises, he said. “We were supposed to sit and talk to the workers, and when we got to the site the police surrounded us and acted like we had done something wrong,” Esdaile said. “Instead of finding the people behind the hate crimes, they harass black people.”

Melanson, however, played down the incident due to poor communication and the fact that the entire site had been shut down and workers were told to return home before Escaile and his colleagues arrived. , due to the discovery of the eighth slipknot earlier today.

Esdaile and other NAACP members met with offsite workers later in the day.

A spokesperson for the FBI’s New Haven division declined to respond directly to Esdaile’s allegations, saying in an email that the agency “continues to work with Windsor Police on the site as the investigation is in progress”.

The Connecticut State Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Workers who are too afraid to work are not paid

Amazon didn’t have the “compassion to sit down and talk to traumatized people,” Esdaile said. “I sat down with about 13 of them, and if they don’t go to work, they don’t get paid – you don’t make sure the job is safe, and then you don’t pay them when they ‘ I’m afraid to come to work, “he added of the e-commerce giant.

Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn Wooden praised Amazon for offering a $ 100,000 reward for information about those behind the nooses but, like Esdaile, expressed concern for the safety of people. black workers at the site. “Beyond the reward offered by Amazon, what steps is the company taking to ensure their safety?” Wood asked Wednesday in a letter to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

As the principal trustee of Connecticut’s pension plans and trust funds, a shareholder of Amazon.com, a publicly traded company, Wooden also called for a review of the company’s use of contractors and sub – Minority contractors in building facilities across the country, saying Amazon’s reputation could be at risk.

Amazon declined to specify what steps it was taking to protect employees at the site, but reiterated previous statements that the company has a zero tolerance policy towards “hatred, racism or discrimination” at sites under construction or in its buildings.

“We are evaluating the performance and management of our developer and general contractor to ensure that they maintain the standards expected of an Amazon project. We will make any appropriate changes to this project, including reassessing our partnerships, to ensure these high standards, “a company spokesperson said in an email Thursday.

No new noose

The racist incidents come a year after a noose was discovered at an Amazon facility in Phoenix, with the black worker who found the noose hanging in a warehouse describing the find to a local CBS affiliate as “really traumatic ”. Quinice Jenkins also said she was told she could go home that day, only without pay.

The nooses found at construction sites and other sites are not unheard of in Connecticut. The state passed a law in 2008 banning the use of noose to threaten or intimidate after a series of incidents. The cases that prompted the ban included the discovery of nozzles on construction sites in West Hartford and Stamford and at a home improvement store in West Hartford.

Connecticut’s past also includes a black policeman, Sgt. Joe Anne Simmons-Meekins, discovering a noose under her police car when she arrived for work in Bridgeport in November 2007, according to a local report at the time. Simmons-Meekins had previously filed a discrimination complaint, claiming she had been harassed by white officers, with a circuit court ruling in her favor in 2008.

More recently, in 2015, a worker found a noose at a construction site at a University of Connecticut health center in Farmington.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz weighed in on the most recent developments on Wednesday.

“The events of the past few weeks at Amazon’s Windsor construction site have been disgusting and heinous. Those responsible for these actions must be held accountable, and we urge law enforcement to be aggressive in their investigation. This repeated behavior is calculated, and was clearly aimed at stoking fear and encouraging racism and bigotry, “they said in a joint statement.

“The NAACP just wants people to go to work, work hard and come home with no issues,” Esdaile said. “It’s a national problem. It’s just a reflection of what’s going on across America.”


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